Padgaonkar among 3 interlocutors for talks in J&K

The announcement as part of the eight-point package unveiled nearly three weeks back to address the unrest in the Kashmir Valley was either greeted with silence by some of the parties in J and K or got a lukewarm response while the separatists rejected the panel.

Information Commissioner M M Ansari and noted academician Radha Kumar were the other interlocutors appointed by the Union Home Ministry after their names were cleared.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the panel may have one more interlocutor later.

The announcement takes forward a decision to appoint interlocutors at the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mamohan Singh on September 25.

Chidambaram sought to downplay demand of leaders in J and K to have a politician to head the panel and said the three interlocutors are "very credible people" and they will begin work as early as possible. "We may add one more interlocutor later," he said.
The three interlocutors have been entrusted with the task of undertaking a sustained dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir to understand their problems and chart a course for the future, an official statement said.

All the three interlocutors have done credible work in public life and bring with them significant understanding of political and economic issues, specially in the context of J and K.
"The Government hopes that after interacting  with all shades of political opinion they will suggest a way forward that truly reflects the aspirations of the people of  Jammu and Kashmir, specially the youth," the statement said.

While Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar, who is also a part of Delhi Policy group, had been holding back-channel talks with the separatists including Syed Ali Shah Geelani earlier, Ansari is completely a new face when it comes to issues pertaining to Kashmir.

Shortly after the appointment of interlocutors was made, the hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani was the first to reject it and termed it as a "futile exercise".
"This is a futile exercise. The Government of India is acting like the deaf and dumb," Geelani said reacting to the announcement.

Moderate Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq expressed disappointment over the appointments and said "the initiative ought to have come from the highest level. Kashmir is a political problem and a Parlaimentary panel would have been an ideal forum for reaching out to Kashmiris."

Mainstream parties in J and K including National Conference and PDP maintained silence but CPM leader M Y Tarigami described as unsatisfactory the composition of the interlocutors saying it may not serve the purpose for which it has been constituted.

"Although we have full faith in the integrity and honesty of the people who have been named as interlocutors, we have been all along vehemently demanding constitution of a Parliamentary panel in view the political nature of the present crisis," Tarigami said.
He said the initiatives taken by the Centre in the past to hold dialogue with the "voices of dissent" in Kashmir have suffered due to trust and credibility deficit.

"The institution of dialogue deserves a serious approach, keeping in view the sensitivities embedded in the Kashmir issue," he said.

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