October 16, 2010

kashmir interlocutors, who and what for?

The three interlocutors appointed by the Centre for talking to Kashmiris have one good thing: they are non-political persons. But the goodness almost ends there. They are hardly the ones that carry weight and will have hardly any goodwill with Kashmiri hardliners, politicos, moderates, commoners, even civil society. None of them can claim to understand the complex sensitivities of the Kashmiri people. None is a Kashmiri and none has passed through the hell in Kashmir.

Come to the names: Dileep Padgaonkar – distinguished journalist, Radha Kumar – an academician, MM Ansari – CIC chief and a Muslim.

Now that the interlocutors are in place, let them be. Let us assume that they have full brief on behalf of the government, PM and Home Minster will lend them access and ears all the time, and that they all speak in the same voice. What the government must also do is to send feelers to the Kashmiris that the Centre is damn serious about solving their problems and addressing their genuine grievances, and that the interlocutors have full government backing. The latter is essential so that they can take firm stand, especially when talking to tough hardliners. By appointing such interlocutors, the Centre has given the impression that it is not too serious; this impression must be wiped out immediately.

What is very necessary is that the government does not get complacent after appointing the interlocutors. Even if it does not tell it to the people, it must have a time-bound plan to solve the Kashmir problem from Indian perspective, if not from all angles and for ever. Only holding meetings, making statements, calling for action-taken-reports, PR gimmicks and playing politics will not do. Use the lull in violence, which may not last long the way Gilani et al are provoking the people to 'act', to find solutions, not buy time.

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