J&K interlocution: A futile exercise?

The Jammu and Kashmir interlocutors’ report ‘A New Compact with the People of Jammu and Kashmir’ was made public on May 24, 2012 by ministry of home affairs (MHA) although the report was submitted on October 12, 2011.

The interlocutors widely travelled the state of Jammu and Kashmir, interacted with more than 700 delegations and held three round table conferences in their tenure. In three mass meetings, thousands of citizens turned up for expressing their views on a wide range of issues.

The J&K state government as well as the Central government haven’t commented on the interlocutors’ report yet. The main opposition party of India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has rejected the report altogether. So have the Kashmiri separatists even though they didn’t hold dialogue with the interlocutors. Also, the Kashmiri pandit organisations have severely criticised the report alleging that their demands hardly find mention in the report.

When the news of the participation of the two interlocutors in seminars organised by ISI lobbyists Ghulam Nabi Fai and Abdul Majeed Tramboo emerged, I was trying not to be cynical. But my cynicism was reinstated after going through the report.

Right of state

The interlocutors’ report looks confused and paradoxical at many places. India has consistently maintained that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India and the parts annexed by Pakistan and China should be reintegrated with the main land.

The interlocutors haven’t directly confronted the right of Indian state over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) but at the same time, they have termed ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ as ‘Pakistan administered Kashmir’, reflecting the western governments’ version. It is deviation from the official stance of the Indian state on the Jammu and Kashmir.

It amounts to derision of Indian Parliament which has passed a unanimous resolution on February 22, 1994 declaring that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir (including POK) is and shall be an integral part of India. Moreover, the interlocutors have recommended harmonisation of relations across the Line of Control (LoC) by setting up of joint institutions which implies giving legitimacy to the illegal control of Pakistan over parts of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that acceded to India in 1947.

While the interlocutors don’t directly recommend returning to pre-1953 situation, yet they suggest a review by a constitutional committee of all the Central acts and articles post 1952 Delhi Agreement. In other words, they are recommending closer to pre-1953 status of Jammu and Kashmir. Also, the group of interlocutors have stressed upon the resumption of dialogue between Indian government and Hurriyat Conference as if Hurriyat Conference is the only legitimate representative of people of the valley, though they have consistently taken a stand hostile to India.   

The report suggests that the diverse aspirations of the three regions ─ Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh ─ must be addressed without giving concrete proposals. There are no proper measures suggested for redressal of grievances of the internally displaced Kashmiri pandit refugees or west Pakistan/ POK refugees. More than five lakh Kashmiri pandit families have been driven out of Kashmir and they are living in other parts of the country almost like refugees.

The interlocutors haven’t touched on the controversial law passed by the J&K state legislature such as ban on delimitation till 2026. Further, the suggestion of making Article 370 ‘special’ from the present ‘temporary’, gradual reduction of All India services officers in favour of state civil services and review of central laws post 1952 are steps towards distancing the state from the nation.

The substantial point in the report is the setting up of three regional councils, one each for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (with Ladakh no longer a division of Kashmir).
The interlocutors’ report is far from producing any kind of consensus within the state or at the Centre. There seems to be no takers for the interlocutors’ report. Also, it hasn’t been discussed in Parliament. While New Delhi is busy in ‘Raisina Hill’ exercise at present, Jammu and Kashmir awaits the redressal of grievances and firm resolution of the problems concerning the state.

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