There is nothing significant in the interlocutors’ report!
Ultimately the cat is out of the bag! Recently released final report of interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir about vexed Kashmir issue seems to be more flimsy than a straightforward description of prospective efforts to ease out Kashmir imbroglio. From the day one, shoddy procedure and choice for selection of interlocutors and their ensuing conduct never blended with the fundamentals of peace-making. At occasions lack of consistency within the group and their divergent views on many issues revealed the uninspiring makeup of the panel. Their attempt to exploit the sentiments of different ethnic, religious and regional groups to achieve a preconceived agenda was conspicuous and has eroded their standing among the people of Kashmir. The surreptitious agenda of buying time through this pack of middlemen is no more a secret now. In addition to crucial ‘time buying’ the other most prominent design was that of isolating the festering sore of Kashmir problem and for convince of political masters facilitate its push on the back-burner, who otherwise lack the courage and will to resolve the issue on its merits. The report looks like a comprehensive dissertation on present troubled state of affairs in Kashmir and its plausible solution through the bigoted prism of vested political and superficial nationalist interests.
To test the quality and worth of the report it is enough to go through the ‘Executive Summary’ of nearly two hundred page final report, rest is all humbug. The summary starts with mention of interactions with magic number of 700 delegations since October 2010, ranging from political entities to several thousand ordinary citizens in 22 districts of the state, leading the interlocutors to paradoxical areas of consensus mentioned in section III of the summary. To pursue this hypothesis of compromise Padgaonkar and his team recommends (not suggesting) a Constitutional Committee for reviewing all central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir after the signing of the (infamous) 1952 agreement . But certainly with riders of ‘Atoot Aang’, predefined parameters of review and above all that of acceptability of Constitutional committee recommendations with all the stake-holders. Step further interlocutors make recommendations on issues of contention. Here they stick their nose in trivial issues like nomenclatures of Governor and that of Chief Minister ending into a controversy of synonyms; an issue least comprehensible even by the most learned constitutional experts. How can issue like selection procedure of Governor, Article 312 related to proportion of officers and devolution of powers to different regions of the state can be treated as vital issues of contention in the backdrop of existing complex political situation in Kashmir? It all looks ridiculous and an act of rubbing salt on the wounds of tormented Kashmiris.
Interestingly, section II of the Executive Summary reads, “The political settlement we propose takes into full account the deep sense of victimhood prevalent in Kashmir Valley. It surely deserves to be addressed with great sensitivity. At the same, we have also sought to avoid the pitfalls of viewing the myriad issues bedeviling the state from the prism of any one region or ethnic or religious community”. And to this observation the worthy interlocutors a few pages ahead in the same summary recommend, “Create three regional councils, one each for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (The latter would no longer be a division of Kashmir). Devote certain legislative, executive and financial powers to them”. This lackluster approach speaks volumes about the intention of designed interlocution on Kashmir and that of interlocutors in particular. Instead of strengthening the bonds of unity within the diverse ethnic, regional and geographical units of the state the panel recommends further alienation by intoxicating the people of these regions with the opium of disintegration. Whatever the contents and subsequent outcome of the report, right now it has stood only to the satisfaction of its designers by diluting the impact of least violent struggle of empowerment by the people of Kashmir and confusing the stake holders of the issue. During the course of their operation interlocutors shrewdly wooed many inconsequential sections of the issue to the center stage and accomplished the agenda of their masters with precision. We all know these half baked suggestions and recommendations within the report will never be put to action as every word of the recommendation in one way or the other is embedded in the deceptive provisos of consensus and acceptability; a requirement that can never materialize within fluid situation of Kashmir.