Most people not in favour of UN resolutions: Interlocutors

Srinagar, Jan 21 (PTI) Centre''s interlocutors on Jammuand Kashmir today said most people who met them were not infavour of implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir seekingplebiscite but favoured socio-economic and politicalempowerment of people and devolution of power.

"As regards a permanent political settlement in Jammuand Kashmir, a small but vocal section harped on UNresolutions, plebiscite and self-determination resulting inindependence of the state as it existed before August 1947,"head interlocutor Dileep Padgaonkar told reporters here.

The veteran journalist was briefing the media at theconclusion of the group''s fourth visit to the state whichbegan early this week.

Padgaonkar said most of the people they met reiteratedtheir faith in democracy, fundamental rights, pluralism andtolerance.

"By and large, however, most people we spoke to didnot refer to that option (UN resolutions) ... they sought theempowerment of people to enable them realise in full measuretheir political, economic, social and cultural aspirations,"he said.

Padgaonkar said they also stressed the need to devolvepower to individuals and communities in all constituent unitsof the state to avoid its division along ethnic or religiouslines.

"Both the empowerment and devolution, they (people)insisted, would have to be backed by constitutional guaranteesand robust institutions for transparent, accountable,inclusive and participatory governance," he said.

Padgaonkar, who was accompanied by former informationCommissioner M M Ansari, parried questions about his contactwith Chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat ConferenceMirwaiz Umar Farooq yesterday.

"I don''t wish to spend my time explaining, clarifyingand justifying anything. I have known separatist leaders in mycapacity as a member of the Kashmir committee headed by Mr(Ram) Jethmalani. I have been in touch with them ever sincebut there is no reason for me to explain each time,"Padgaonkar said.

Breaking the ice, the interlocutors yesterday talkedto the Mirwaiz over phone discussing the situation in thestate and seeking time for a meeting. After the conversation,which lasted for over 10 minutes, the Mirwaiz had said thatPadgaonkar had called him and wanted to meet "but we refused."

The Mirwaiz said Hurriyat Conference was not against adialogue but the process has to be "Kashmir-centric andresult-oriented".

The head interlocutor said his group did not havedirect contact with hardline Hurriyat faction chairman SyedAli Shah Geelani but they have sent a letter to him and otherseparatist leaders to provide written proposals of theirperceived solution to Kashmir issue. .

"I need to attend most humanely to the task at hand which is to evolve a broad consensus on political settlementin J&K.... We have formally approached the separatist leadersto request them to give us their published documents on thisquestion so that we can incorporate their views that we arecurrently preparing," Padgaonkar said.

He, however, said that if and when the separatistsindicate that they are prepared to talk, "we shall talk at thevenue of their choosing. We have no problem with that".

Asking BJP to reconsider its decision to hoist thetricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day, Padgaonkarsaid while every Indian citizen had the right to hoist thenational flag anywhere in the country, if exercising such aright leads to tension and "thwarts the current efforts torestore normalcy" in the state, then it is best to avoid it.

He said there was an urgent need to "hasten the paceof efforts" to reduce the "intrusive presence" of securityforces and expedite the release of stone pelters and politicalprisoners".

The interlocutor said the entrepreneurs and tradersgave an "account of the harrowing problems" they faced due to"endless hartals, shutdowns and curfews".

On the governance issues, Padgaonkar said they haveheard "bitter complaints" about "pervasive corruption" inpublic life.

"But complainants were heartened to learn how citizenscould use the Right to Information Act to combat this menace,"he said.

Padgaonkar said the young people talked aboutinadequate quality education facilities and the shrinking jobopportunities in the state.

"They expect some relief from the many measuresannounced by the central and state governments to addressthese issues," he said.

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