SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference on Sunday decided not to meet the interlocutors appointed by the Centre for Jammu and Kashmir, saying such an exercise was aimed at keeping the issue lingering.
“We have nothing against the team of interlocutors personally but we feel that it has been done to procrastinate the issue,” the Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters here.
He said interlocutors are appointed in places where there is confusion or the message of the people is not clear.
“The message from Kashmir is loud and clear … There is no confusion. The people of Jammu and Kashmir want resolution of the issue under the right to self-determination. They have done that over the past five months,” Mirwaiz said.
He said the Hurriyat Conference has made a conscious decision not to be part of any process that is aimed at keeping the Kashmir issue lingering.
The Hurriyat chairman questioned the need for appointing interlocutors as the separatist amalgam had held a dialogue with the prime ministers of both India and Pakistan in the past.
“The dialogue has to be at the highest level. We have held talks with the prime ministers of India and Pakistan earlier.
What is the need for interlocutors now?” he asked.
The hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani has already rejected the appointment of interlocutors as a futile exercise.
Eminent journalist Mr Dileep Padgaonkar is heading the three-member panel of interlocutors which also includes educationist Ms Radha Kumar and the information commissioner, Mr M M Ansari.
The BJP on Sunday slammed Mr Padgaonkar for his comment that Pakistan has to be involved for a permanent solution of the Kashmir issue and demanded that the PMO explain if this was part of the brief of the team.
Mr Padgaonkar on his part stuck to his remark and maintained that what he had said regarding Pakistan was “obvious” and there was nothing new. The three-member panel is on its first visit to the Kashmir valley after it was set up 10 days back.
The eminent journalist also said a dialogue with Pakistan is “as necessary” as the dialogue with people of Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the Kashmir issue which is a “bilateral dispute going on since 1947-48”.
The BJP said the comments sounded as if the panel was rationalising Pakistan’s stand on its “unfinished agenda” on Kashmir and that it was “arguing” from the Hurriyat angle in this matter.
“The BJP demands that the Prime Minister’s Office should immediately clarify if this was part of the brief given to the interlocutors,” the party spokesperson, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi.
She expressed the fear that the comments by Mr Padgaonkar even before it could start its assignment “is unnecessarily internationalising the process.”
“What was the Pakistan dimension that the interlocutor was referring to? Is this part of the brief given or has he stepped beyond its (the panel’s) brief?” she questioned.
Mr Padgaonkar had said on Saturday that the panel is in Jammu and Kashmir to look for a permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute but a permanent solution is not possible without the involvement of Pakistan.
Mr Padgaonkar told PTI in Srinagar on Sunday that the panel had not been given any brief by the government and pointed to the Union Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram’s statement that there are no red lines.
“What I have said with regard to Pakistan is the obvious. I have not said anything that has not been said before.
“I have not exceeded my brief as we did not get any brief. The Home Minister has said there are no red lines or boundaries. We know what we are doing,” Mr Padgaonkar said.
He recalled that Parliament had also passed a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, asking Pakistan to vacate those areas which it has occupied. “This shows that there is a Pakistan dimension to this issue,” he said.
Ms Seetharaman said “The comments sound as if they are rationalising Pakistan’s stand on its unfinished agenda on Kashmir. Furthermore, it seems as if the panel is arguing from the Hurriyat angle in this matter.”
Asked whether the party would seek recall of the panel, the BJP spokesperson said, “At this stage we want the Prime Minister to say whether this was (the statements) part of their brief”.
Mr Padgaonkar, however, said Pakistan had been involved in the Kashmir issue since 1947 and the Indian government had recently stated it was “ready to walk more than half the distance” to settle all matters with Pakistan.
He said the usage of words to describe the problem in the state was not as important as to find a way out.