Srinagar: Asserting that any settlement to the Kashmir issue must emerge after a sustained dialogue with all the stake holders, including the separatist camp, the three-member team of interlocutors on Thursday stressed the need for urgent efforts to reduce the trust deficit between the government and the people.
â€œSerious and urgent efforts had to be undertaken to reduce the trust deficit between the rulers and ruled. Governance had to be transparent and accountable. Due process of law must be observed to resolve human rights related problems,â€ journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, who is leading the three-member team of interlocutors, told a news conference here this morning after concluding the teamâ€™s third visit to the state.
Padgaonkar was flanked by academician Radha Kumar and former Information Commissioner M M Ansari.
â€œA visible difference on the ground in this regard would create a congenial atmosphere to explore various options for a political settlement that is acceptable to all the regions of the state and to all communities within every region,â€ he said.
â€œThe settlement must emerge after a sustained dialogue with all stake holders, including the Hurriyat Conference and other allied groups, to ensure that it genuinely reflects the will of the people of the state,â€ he added.
Advocating the opening of more routes for trade and travel across the Line of Control, Padgaonkar said the permits to cross the LoC must be delivered without prolonged bureaucratic hassles.
â€œThe state of Jammu and Kashmir in both the eastern and western parts of the LoC must emerge as a hub of intellectual, cultural and economic activities along the ancient Silk Road. This would end the isolation of Jammu and Kashmir and project it as an area crucial for the welfare of the people in all the adjoining parts of Asia,â€ he said.
Padgaonkar said that the interlocutors during the third leg of their visit held consultations on two broad lines. â€œOne pertained to issues of governance, developmental concerns, matters related to the conduct of the security forces, fate of the detainees involved in stone pelting incidents, release of political prisoners against whom there are no serious charges, human rights violations and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act,â€ he added.
He said the team will present the recommendations to the Centre within ten days after their return to New Delhi.
Responding to a query about the opinion of the people from the state, Padgaonkar said that team found different voices from different regions of the state.
â€œSome people demand Azadi, while some demand abrogation of article 370. The varied opinion has been gathered and after certain suggestions will be taken up to form the basis of a political settlement,â€ he said.
Padgaonkar said that the interlocutors have stressed upon the government that CBMs and the developmental works should not affect process of the political solution for Kashmir and the political settlement efforts must not impede upon the development works.
â€œThis process needs baby steps before we take a giant step for the political solution of Kashmir issue,â€ he added.
He also expressed surprise over the rally in North Kashmirâ€™s Handwara town on Wednesday.
â€œWe had no idea; weâ€™ll be present at a mass rally. It (rally) took us by surprise,â€ he added.
When asked if stone pelting was a form of peaceful protest, Padgaonkar said the stone throwing that leads to injury to any person or results in damage to public property canâ€™t be termed peaceful.
â€œPeople should be allowed all means of peaceful protests to give went to their frustration. Security forces should exercise utmost restraint while dealing with stone pelting,â€ he added.
Responding to the question about the implementation of the recommendations made by the team, Padgaonkar said that a large number of numbers of recommendations were accepted by the Government of India.
â€œSome recommendation are to be implemented by Central government while as most of them fall in the ambit of State government to act upon. Chief Minister told us that the measures are being taken to act on the recommendations,â€ he said.
â€œAny announcement regarding the implementation these recommendations will have to be made by the state and central government,â€ he added.
When asked about the Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelaniâ€™s five point proposal, Padgaonkar said several recommendations of the veteran leader had already been accepted by the government. Â â€œRelease of the youth is an indication of acceptance of one of his demands while as on demilitarization front, more than 30 bunkers have been removed from many parts of the valley,â€ he said.
On the Indo-Pak dialogue, Padgaonkar said that the parleys with Pakistan on all issues, including Kashmir lies within the ambit of Central government.
When asked about the proposal mooted by MLA Langate, Er Rasheedâ€™s about the involvement of militants in peace process, Padgaonkar said that the dialogue canâ€™t succeed till the violence from the both sides ceases.
â€œWeâ€™re willing to listen to what they (militants) say. We met some groups of militants twice in Central Jail. You cannot hold a talk while holding a gun on someoneâ€™s head,â€ he said.
Expressing concern over the arrest of the youth on charges of stone pelting, academician Radha Kumar said â€œIt is disturbing that youth are still being arrested. We have been informed that these people were wanted for earlier incidents so there is no question of same people being let out and re-arrested.â€
The government, she said had told the team that only fifty people were in detention while 3000 were released.
â€œWe have been told by the government that 15 more political prisoners will be released in the coming days,â€ she said.
Militant killed in Zaloora: Army
Srinagar: One militant on Thursday was killed in an encounter with Army and Special Operations Group (SOG) of police in Zaloora area of North Kashmirâ€™s Baramulla district.
Official sources told that Armyâ€™s 47 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and SOG of police early this morning cordoned off Kandi forest area in Zaloora, Sopore on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.
As the joint team started combing operations, the militants hiding in the forest area opened random fire on the search team. In the exchange of fire a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant was killed. The slain has been identified as Ubaidullah, a Pakistan national.
The encounter was going on when the last reports came in. Two militants are believed to be hiding in the forest area.
â€œOne Pakistani militant has been killed in the encounter that broke out this afternoon. The encounter is still in progress,â€ Srinagar based, Army spokesman J S Brar said.