Kashmir interlocutor Padgaonkar denies criticizing CM Abdullah

Jammu, Dec 17 (ANI): Dileep Padgaonkar, a senior journalist and one of the interlocutors appointed by the Centre to seek out various shades of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday denied media reports that he had criticized Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Government and praised the contents of self-rule document.

"I have seen in a newspaper published here certain quotations attributed to me and they relate to what I have allegedly said about the Chief Minister of the state. I wish to state categorically that those remarks are a fabrication from end to end, said Padgaonkar stating that the comments were fabricated.

Padgaonkar further said that the interlocutors are not in a position to pass judgments or take sides, asserting that their role is to evolve a political settlement between political parties of the state.

"We are not here to pass judgments on these matters, we are here to fulfill our mandate. The mandate is to focus tightly on trying to evolve a broad consensus on a political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir," said Padgaonkar.

Padgaonkar also said that reports regarding the first two visits have been provided to both the Central and Jammu and Kashmir Governments to take steps towards restoring of peace.

The three interlocutors began their third visit to the state from today, following which they will most probably submit the 'broad contours' for a political settlement to the decades-old issue.

The three-member panel headed by Padgaonkar, along with academician Radha Kumar and Central Information Commissioner M. M. Ansari will wind up their visit on December 23.

During its seven-day visit commencing today, the group will visit several district headquarters like Jammu, Rajauri, Poonch, Doda and Srinagar and interact with people and organisations cutting across party lines to take their views on a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, appointed the three-member panel on October 13 to ascertain the cross section of opinions, including that of separatists.

The three interlocutors had submitted their first report to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on November 2.

They gave a list of recommendations to the government on Kashmir which they said can't be made public.

They also maintained that they would continue making regular trips to Kashmir to keep the dialogue going.

"We handed over the report of our first visit to Jammu and Kashmir to the Home Minister. It gives our preliminary assessment of the situation, as we perceived it. We have also given a series of recommendations and suggestions to address the kind of problems that are faced in different regions of the state, and by different sections of the population in the state," Dileep Padgaonkar told reporters last month. (ANI)

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