Srinagar: Â The three-member group of interlocutors appointed by New Delhi on Kashmir Friday said that only a “small but vocal section” in Jammu and Kashmir wants independence from India.
â€œAs regards a permanent political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir, a small but vocal section of opinion harp on UN resolutions, plebiscite and self determination resulting in independence for the state as existed before August 1947,â€ Dileep Padgoankar, head of the panel, told reporters after culminating second leg of their fourth visit to the state today.
â€œBy and large, however most people we spoke to did not refer to that option,â€ said Padgoankar, flanked by other member of the panel MM Ansari, a former information commissioner of India.
When asked how the panel could gauge the sentiments of the majority when they had only met selected sections of the society, Padgoankar said, â€œNo, we havenâ€™t just met the elite. We have met a cross section of people, including hundreds of youth, mainly from poor families, from the city, from district headquarters and have merely reported their political aspirations in the report.â€
Â Padgoankar said the interlocutors were trying to evolve a broad consensus on permanent political settlement of the Kashmir issue and the recommendations to be submitted by the panel would create a conducive atmosphere for resolving the issue.Â
He said the panel had not asked the pro-freedom leadership for talks but for â€œdocuments their organisations have produced (regarding the Kashmir solution).â€
However, he said the panel was ready to meet “separatists if and when they want.”
The pro-freedom leadership has already called for boycott to the interlocutors, appointed after high profile parliamentarians visit to Valley following five months unrest that left over 112 people dead at the hands of paramilitary CRPF and state police.
The interlocutors claimed that the people they met reiterated their faith in democracy, fundamental rights pluralism and tolerance.Â
â€œThey sought the empowerment of people to enable them to realize in full measure their political, economic, social and cultural aspirations. They also stressed the need to devolve power to individuals and communities in all the constituent units of the state to avoid its division along ethnic or religious lines.â€Â
The panel also insisted that the empowerment and devolution should be backed by constitutional guarantees and robust institutions for transparent, accountable, inclusive and participatory governance.Â
The interlocutors, who get remuneration of Rs 1.5 lakh per month, also underlined need to hasten the pace of efforts â€˜now underway to reduce the intrusive presence of the security forces, expedite the release of stone-pelters and political prisoners and bring to book those guilty of human rights violations,â€ Padgoankar said as per a Press Bureau of India correspondent.
The panel said that it came across â€œbitter complainantsâ€ about â€˜pervasiveâ€™ corruption in public life which allowed the â€œwell connected institutions to the detriment of the meritorious. However, the complainants were heartened to learn how citizens could use the Right to Information Act to combat this menace.â€Â
Padgoankar said that young people expect some relief to address issues of inadequate quality education facilities and shrinking job opportunities in the state.
In response to a query on the LK Advani’s support to the BJP’s proposed flag-hoisting at Lal Chowk, Padgoankar reiterated his appeal to the BJP for giving up the programme.
“I have said it already that every citizen of India has a right to hoist the national flag in any part of the country, but the exercising of this right has to be seen in its context. If it leads to greater tensions and thaws effort to bring normalcy, then itâ€™s better to avoid it. Therefore, i hope they will reconsider their decision.” Â