It was on 13th Oct 2010 that Ministry of Home Affairs GOI appointed a group of three Interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir. The terms of reference of the interlocutors were not made that clearly public. Only thing the people could understand was that the GROUP of THREE had to feel the pulse of the people of J&K and communicate the same to Government of India. How would government of India proceed on their report too was left un disclosed. But one thing was sure that the people who were really concerned about the affairs of J&K ( particularly the state of affairs that people of J&K were living in for last over 20 years ) did believe that the need for appointing the interlocutors had resulted not out of unemployment or lack of development or socio – economic disparities. The need had surely resulted out of the conceptions that the affairs of J&K State were suffering due to some local conflicts pertaining to the history of accession of princely State of J&K with India, it’s relationship with India Dominion , and the constitutional status of J&K wrt to India. Had the need for appointment of the Interlocutors been for Development and unemployment like issues then GOI / State Government had many senior and professional people in the Government and associate institutions to look into. So, after the report was submitted by Dileep Padgaonkar , the team leader of ( Chairman of the 3 Member Interlocutor Committee – Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M. M. Ansari)) to Union Home Minister P. Chidambram on 12th Oct 2011 people were anxiously waiting to know about the contents of the report and the plans of GOI as regards the contents of the report. With Dileep Padgaonkar in the team people expected that this report would not be like the report of the likes of the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh’s 5th working Group on J&K that did no good except pushing the people of J&K into more confusions. Any how nothing much fruitful was expected from the interlocutors report , but still inview of the reputation that atleast Dileep Padgaonkar enjoyed as a journalist one would expect that he would do some independent research and come out from the web of the information net that has been woven over the years with the yarn produced from the same class of campaigns and with new Delhi not handling the affairs seriously. But now after the contents were available in the media on 24th May 2011, it has been more of disappoint to many. Going by the face of report it need not be discussed. But since such incomplete documents can otherwise be used by the trouble makers , the report is being discussed here.
Interlocutors Report exposes the non seriousness of GOI /MOH
What was GOI doing with the report for last 7 month since it was submitted in 12th Oct 2011 ?
No doubt the opinions of individuals could be different . Leave aside technicalities ,but in the case a report / opinions also reflect ignorance or mis quotes of some very vital facts / technical references by the authors, then there are sure reasons for outright rejection rejection.
i. The Interlocutors’ report refers the Pakistan Occupied areas of J&K (Kashmir) as Pakistan Administered part / Areas of Kashmir ( J&K ). How could GOI accept the report with such a reference is a question?
ii. The interlocutors report says that the People who have come to this side from Pakistan Administered Kashmir have no right to vote in elections and seek employment in J&K. This is totally wrong. POJK displaced persons do hold the status of State Subjects of J&K / Permanent residents of J&K and hence have right to vote for J&K Assembly , have right to employment in J&K Services , have right to admission in state professional colleges and right to property. This clearly demonstrates that the interlocutor team has not made any attempt to know about more realities of J&K and were / are still ignorant of the facts even after spending one complete years on the job. It appears that they were pre occupies with concepts and did not make use of any information that was provided to them by local people from outside the conventional resource teams and those particularly from areas outside Kashmir Valley.
iii. All through the report in a way refers the issues and affairs as Kashmir affairs and proposes to suggest a report for bringing peace to J&K
iv. The interlocutors report mentions the people who were uprooted from Pakistan occupied areas of J&K in 1947 as MIGRANTS where as it vide an order of 1950 signed by Sheikh Abdullah Prime Minister that the people uprooted / thrown away from the Pakistan Occupied Areas of J&K were named as Displaced Persons and still they for all technical reference purpose are known as POK DPs . This shows the casual approach of the Interlocutors. Those families who went to Pakistan from J&K in 1947 were named as MIGRANTS by local government under same order of 1950.
v. The Interlocutors report in a way goes against the Feb 1994 Resolution of Indian Parliament on J&K that resolves for liberation of Pakistan Occupied Areas of J&K . The report does not treat those areas as occupied areas and instead names the areas as Pakistan Administered Areas. How could ministry of P. Chidambram over look such acts of the Interlocutors is a question.
vi. With this type of understandings and levels of information that the Interlocutors have displayed , the inferences drawn and proposals made by them can surely not deliver any good for the people of J&K.
It appears that either GOI / MOH was not serious about the objective behind appointment of interlocutors or the Home Minister of India has not gone through the report of the Interlocutors. Had the MOH of India read the contents of the report , the ministry would have out rightly rejected it since it raises questions on J&K being integral part of India , what to talk of retaining the report in files for 7 months and then making the contents public.
2 Article 370 has not given a special status to J&K State
Yes one thing good has come out from the REPORT of the Group of Interlocutors for J&K 2010. All these years even the professionals and “EXPERTS” of J&K affairs have been under the impression / have been cultivating that article 370 Has given constitutionally a special status to J&K State. Where as it has not been a fact. So, unfortunately for India even those sitting in the chairs of governance too did not make any effort to un do this wrong explanation. The result has been that separatists and anti India elements have been able to use it as a tool to mis inform the common man. Now the Interlocutors when caught in the net of technicalities have been compelled by the conditions to say that ARTICLE 370 is not a Special Status Article as regards J&K. And have rather proposed to amend it as Special Status article. They have also inferred that it is a temporary provisions and be made a permanent provision after amendment. Suggestions for calling it Special provision, for calling it permanent by amendment and the like are opinions and are subject to constitutional / legal/ political examination.
3. Report has self contradictions
i. The Dileep Padgaonkar report (Group of Interlocutors for J&K ) at places reflects that disturbances / political overtones in J&K are not due to communal intentions of some . Where as at other places the IR report sermons that in case the demands for trifurcation of J&K ( Jammu State , Kashmir State and Union Territory Ladakh ) are accepted , the muslims of 5 majority districts of Jammu region would be forced ( much against their grain) to cast their lot with Kashmir Valley would like to go with Kashmir valley p-36. Do the interlocutors mean that what has happened in Kashmir valley / what has been demanded by Kashmir Valley leaders is because majority is muslim ? no it is not simply so.
ii. The IR report projects that people of Ladakh Region and Jammu region do have grievances against the government alleging that they have been discriminated by the valley dominated governments and opinion makers. But the same report simply opines that the people do not want trifurcation .
iii. The report simultaneously suggests formation of three REGIONAL Councils with some legislative powers too. Who has been the guide of the interlocutors could be question. When people want to stay together where comes the need for regional councils with some legislative powers ? p-5
4. Framing of a Constitutional Committee for review of Laws / Acts
The Interlocutor report suggests re formation a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Act and Articles of Constitution of India extended to J&K after signing 1952 Sheikh Nehru Delhi Agreement and recommending ,where ever needed ,withdrawal of the same. The suggestion is conflicting since does not make any reference of the D D Thakur Committee outcome that was constituted after Sheikh Mohd Abdullah took over as Chief Minister of J&K. The recommendations are hypothetical and need not be taken notice .
i. The other question could be who will select / elect the Chairman and members of Committee that has to recommend undoing the actions of elected constituent assembly / legislative assembly / parliament of India ?
ii. How will the recommendations be implemented on case to case basis by presidential orders / under Article 370.Who will recommend / concur reversal ?
iii. Report recommends amendment / modification of Article 370 where as so for all experts have been saying “ article 370 “ can neither be operated nor abrogated .
iv. More so Article 370 id for extension , it is not for repeal
5. Status can not be so simply taken back to 1952 or so
In case inspite of all constitutional lacunae / ills it is still accepted that legal / constitutional position be taken back to July 1952 or 8th August 1952 then … Who will order this …President can not do on his own…..who will recommend to president … Union cabinet can simply do so …State Government can not do so …There will be no State Assembly…There will be no J&K Constitution…
In case the present J&K Assembly is taken as Constituent Assembly / Peoples Assembly, this Assembly too can not be used since truthfulness of this Assembly as well as all previous Assemblies is being doubted by the interlocutors who have also recommended taking separatists into confidence.
And above all who will head the interim J&K Government. It can not be the present Omar Abdullah lead NC ? Congress Government , It can not be Farooq Abdullah or Mufti Sayeed ( as was got done by Delhi as regards Sheikh Abdullah) or Ghulam Nabi Azad or Mangat Ram Sharma or even Dr. Karan Singh . It was the separatist pressure that forced Delhi to appoint 5 Working Groups on J&K in 2007 and then the Interlocutors group of three. So, IR report has been just a pass time.
6. Making Article 370 Permanent and renaming it
The IR suggests that solution lies in making Article 370 permanent by deleting the word temporary from its description and naming it Special Status article by amendment of Indian constitution. Report also suggests that after doing some work ( under 370 .1 & 370.3 ) Article 370 should not be operated. The question is in case it has to be not operated by President after some reversals are made then why to retain it as a special article permanently, what for ? , the Interlocutors are silent. Though the recommendations / views expressed are not worth taking notice hoping for a solution still one could ask :
i. Can article 370 be so simply amended or modified by GOI ?, Answer is no.
ii. Who will recommend / concur to the President ? In case we go by the understanding of the Interlocutors (who surely appear to be influenced / pre loaded with the view points of the valley based mainstream leaders / separatists ) this can be done by the Constituent Assembly of J&K and if we go by the opinion of experts on “ J&K” there is no assembly worth the name of Constituent Assembly of J&K at present . Should a new Constituent Assembly be elected?
iii. More over doing so is as good as abrogation of Article 370 even if its contents are to be changed naming it is special provision / Status Article . It will be as good as adding a new Article in Constitution of India by the Parliament and no any government can simply do it on its own.
iv. Or in case it is only named as special status article and word temporary is to be deleted but it has not to be operated in future , then what is the purpose of retaining it . So the suggestions are un thoughtful.
7. Is not the Instrument of accession eroded by August 1952 Delhi Agreement ?
In case the indirect inference drawn by Interlocutors is accepted that majority in J&K feel that article 370 has been eroded , then it could also be said that there has been undue sure erosion of the terms and contents of the Instrument of accession (as was signed by Hari Singh ) through the signing of the 1952 Delhi Agreement by two persons and acceptance of the same by Parliament of India .
i. Nehru Sheikh Delhi agreement was done outside the instrument of accession and Maharaja Hari Singh was not party to it.
ii. The Dehli Agreement was first presented in parliament and thereafter it was presented in the J&K Constituent Assembly of J&K. , So, Sheikh Abdulla had signed an agreement with Nehru without the approval of the JK Constituent Assembly and there was no reference of the Regent Karan Singh in that.
iii. Even Sheikh’s cabinet had accused Sheikh Abdulla in august 1953 that Sheikh was not serious about the Delhi Accord, rather he intended to violate even this “ agreement”.
So, it is quite evident that the interlocutors have failed to study the J&K affairs with open mind and appear to have worked with mindset that was totally carried with the choice and views of those who have been working to keep J&K affairs disturbed in the name of Kashmir affairs.` Rather they had pre set concept / information base.
8.Report is not drafted with a sincere and free mind approach ?
The manner in which the Dileep Padgaonkar committee report proceeds it appears that they have not tried to even know the basic of the ex Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir.
i. They have called Pakistan Occupied areas of J&K as Pakistan Administered parts of Kashmir / Jammu and Kashmir
ii. They have called Pakistan Occupied Area displaced persons as Migrants where as per an order of 1950 signed by Sheikh Abdullah , the then Prime Minister of J&K , they were named as Displaced Persons.
iii. So strangely Dileep Padgaonkar report says that POK DPs (“Migrants”) do not have any rights as State Subjects of J&K i.e they can not vote for J&K Assembly, they can not get J&K Government Jobs, they can not get admission in J&K Government Professional Colleges . This conclusion is totally wrong. It is so surprising that the Interlocutor Committee that claims having toured J&K for one year, met more than 700 delegations has not been able to even understand the status of people living in J&K.
iv. Though they have understood during their tours from Oct 2010 to September 2011 to different areas of J&K that J&K State has vast geographical and socio political dimensions , still they have not been sincere to accept the truths like : that Kashmir Valley is a small part of J&K State & any voice ( worth attracting attention of outsiders) against local government /GOI as well as any separatist voice against India Nation ( where ever it has been ) has primarily come only from the Kashmir valley ( Kashmir Region ) and no other areas over last 60 years .
v. Interlocutors appear to have not made worth attempt to look at J&K for fact finding and appear to have worked under Kashmir Valley “phobia”. Had it not been so they would have known through the informations locally available that even Muzaffarabad ( no doubt Ladakh too) was part of the State of Maharaja Gulab Singh before the British ceded the Areas of Kashmir Valley to Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. So the report is no more than a hush up exercise and MOH too has thrown it in the open without any workable note.
vi. Interlocutors recommend that for solution, we must keep in mind strategic importance of J & K as regards central Asia and South Asia. They have failed to learn that no part/ boundary of Kashmir Valley ( that was ceded to Gulab Singh by the British) is bordering Afaganistan, China, Russia, and even Pakistan. When Sheikh Abdullah gave Quit Kashmir call in 1946 it indirectly referred to the 1946 Amritsar Treaty between the British & the Maharaja Gulab Singh. As regards the trade links with Central Asia / South Asia , the link is through Indian Borders and a local Indian Sate can not claim independent identity on such account. Similarly what is the problem for conducting trade with the other world across Indian borders and such international trade is Central Subject and not State subject. What Interlocutors team has tried to examine and propose and in what context it is , is not understandable. If they mean J&K ( Kashmir valley ) should be made a “State” out side India , then they should have dared to openly say so and discussed the Self Rule Document of PDP ( PDP itself says that it DOC does not suggest immediate and total solution) in detail in the report .
9. Report reflects no different a mindset
No doubt over last more than six decades the approach of GOI and prime political parties of India has been such that it were only the leaders, view points and questions that emerged from Kashmir valley ( just 10 % of the total area of J&K State ) were taken notice and attended to. Going by the experience with earlier committees and commissions nothing much different was expected from the Group of Interlocutors. I was of the opinion that the end outcome would not be any more than the contents of the Report of Man Mohan Singh’s 5th Working Group ( 2007 -2010) that was headed by a Retired Judge of Supreme court of India but gave a very incomplete report as regards its particular terms of reference ( center state relations) . Nothing fruitful came out of the Saghir Ahmed Report except that it gave some material to NC / PDP to advocate that the report went in their Autonomy / Self Rule way but GOI did not implement. More confusions for innocent people of J&K and more tools for the separatist to target India at the international level were hence provided. And the result would be no different in this case also. More confusions and more impractical suggestions and inferences have come from team Dileep Padgaonkar. Going by the face of report I would not have discussed this report but since such incomplete documents can otherwise be used by the trouble makers , the report is being discussed here.
Justice Saghir Ahmed who was a retired supreme court judge had failed to examine and discuss the technicalities / constitutional aspects of J&K Assembly Autonomy Resolution June 2000/ Greater Autonomy/ PDP Self Rule ( although PDP had loaded Self Rule Document on its website also in 2008 ). It appeared from the report that Justice Saghir ahmed not even read the Self Rule document that was also available on the net. As a Judge he was the best person to see the constitutional aspects of Autonomy Resolution 2000 and PDP Self Rule. He did not do so . GOI India should have asked that why the Justice did not do his job. But GOI did not even comment on that report , what to talk of rejecting the report and treating the exercise as wastage of time and money
. No doubt this did give an opportunity to NC/ PDP to say that GOI has not gone with the recommendations of 5th WG. Confusions in the local minds grew, more wrong signals were sent to outside world as well. The summary contents of the interlocutors report too are no different. The difference is that they have discussed the Self Rule features indirectly in some more detail without caring that such suggestions did not fall with in the purview of J&K being a State of Union of India .
Similarly Interlocutors report has been left without any comments for 7 months ( Oct 2011 to May 2012) by GOI inspite of it having so much of lacunae, incompleteness and wrong quotes and references that question that question Indian intentions and rights as regards Indian State of J&K. Interlocutors report has worked on the similar lines and talked on some sensitive issues that have more relevance from international point of view for India . But the discussions and suggestions have been made by Interlocutors hypothetically and beyond constitutional dimensions .
It is quite evident from the report that the even team Dileep Padgaonkar has been carried with the one sided viewpoints and demands cultivated by the Kashmir Valley centric mainstream political leaderships and the anti India / separatist elements ( no doubt improper & no timely response from GOI over the years as well looking J&K affairs as only Kashmir valley affairs has allowed cultivation of wrong concepts even in the minds of many Indian journalists, writers, opinion makers , political leaders, social and human right activists ). No doubt it was a unique experience for them to interact with J&K people outside Kashmir Valley and surely 12 month period was too less for them to do effective learning / understanding and come out of the information about J&K affairs that they had so far believed in.
It was not only in pre 1947 days that some Valley based leaders were carried by Congress and the British as the only representative voice and sample of the people of J&K State and the Kashmir Valley issues ( 10 % area of J&K ) have been treated as the representative of J&K . affairs on communal lines. Even after 1947 accession the Delhi Leaders and and the people of other Indian States too have all these years got carried with the same Kashmir Valley Centric understanding. Pakistan has hence taken undue advantage of this projecting J&K as a communal issue ( religion based ).
It was not only Jawaharlal Nehru but also many other Indian leaders from political parties other than Congress who carried on with such approach. Even BJP has been no different to some extent. To India’s fair disadvantage many social, religious, HR, academic study groups and Commissions too have been no different. Some experts have even alleged that when any one visits J&K for study on affairs , he / she is extended pleasant hospitality by the Valley leaders as well as the governments dominated by Valley centric leaders / groups , and the visitor gets lost in the cob web of Valley Centric vision “ documents” / demands / inferences / historical notes inspite of the fact that Kashmir Valley forms no more than 10% part of whole of J&K and Jammu Region is 170 % as large as Kashmir valley, what to talk of Ladakh region ( that includes large area of Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied J&K as well as area of Ladakh region transgressed by CHINA ). But no one has so far that pointedly referred to the needs ( outstanding since 1947 ) of the Pakistan Occupied areas of J&K & the people from / of those areas except Kashmir valley. Only passing references are made to the people outside Kashmir valley and this report is no different.
The Kashmir valley has also unduly influenced the wisdom of the Team Interlocutor ( headed by a renowned journalist in Dileep Padgaonkar ). It could be said with regrets that the interlocutors inspite of spending enough time in J&K have not been able to make any effort to know or do any extra effort to know / see J&K outside the arena so far known to them and the pictures painted so far. The interlocutors appear to have been caught in the controversies and complications of J&K affairs . they have projected and inferred differently at different places for similar / same issues.
Without particularly naming the Self Rule DOCUMENT of PDP the report has touched some contents of PDP SR Doc and suggested that after the policies are approved at the India level then for implementation of some issues the matter need be deliberated with Pakistan and Pakistan “ administered” Kashmir government. What hesitation the interlocutors had in straightway referring to Self Rule Doc of PDP need be asked. May they wanted to retain the good will of Kashmir valley as well as people of other Indian states by not discussing the affairs openly.
It could be inferred , even alleged by some , that the interlocutors are not at all concerned about the welfare of the people of J&K , they were / are under the valley centric information bank and they wanted to lose the good will of no one , even the separatists ( who did not accept them as interlocutors worth the prevailing conditions and requirements of J&K affairs).
The interlocutors were not aware of even the basic points J&K like Pakistan Occupied areas of J&K ( they call Pakistan Administered areas of J&K ), nomenclature used for people uprooted in 1947 from J&K areas ( they wrongly call Displaced persons as Migrants ), their wrongly saying that POK displaced persons do not have Voting right for JK Assembly elections as well as have no right to property in J&K. So, how could such people be considered worth making a view / suggestions on J&K affairs?
It is so surprising that inspite of all these lacunae / wrongs and unfair references / suggestions GOI / Ministry of Home Affairs GOI was and is still carrying the interlocutors report to their CHEST.
YES three truthful facts so far mis represented , mis quoted do indirectly emerge from the Interlocutor’s report Oct 2011.
i. J&K does not have a special status as per Constitution of India
ii. Article 370 is not a Special status Article
iii. There is vide disparity in opinions / aspirations /demands of the people of J&K. The people of Jammu Region and Ladakh region allege that they have been unfairly / discriminately treated in comparison to Kashmir valley. It is here that Interlocutors report indirectly accepts that J&K affairs are not just Kashmir Valley affairs and there are other much larger areas / people in J&K.
iv. Some more revealing facts would have been known to them had they spent some more time with the people other than those from Kashmir valley shedding ( for the time ) the concepts they had carried so far.
The report shall not be implemented , rather it can not implemented . Rather report has created more of confusions /doubts and the GOI / MOH should not have put the report in the media. Going by the face of report I would not have discussed this report but since such incomplete documents can otherwise be used by the trouble makers , the report is being discussed here.
10. May not the report does some damage than doing some good
As regards the people of J&K / GOI is concerned making the report as drafted and the manner in which it has been made public would socially do some harm and not good.
No action would be taken by Government of India on the vital issues concerning J&K turmoil and as contained in this report ( leave aside local unemployment , disparity , development , displaced persons , migrants, refugees ) since the issues that really concern and need be answered / attended to on time surely pertain to separatists ideologies and such like ancillary viewpoints that could be used for vote bank politics.
Since there have been some references of the Nehru Sheikh 1952 Delhi Agreement (of the time when J&K Constituent Assembly was already on its job and any such agreement would be a dictation to Constituent Assembly ) and the PDP Self Rule Doc / indirect reference of its contents , the interlocutor report would surely provide some pointers to NC and PDP to tell people that GOI is not implementing their demands. They may get some political advantage. But in the long run National Conference will be a loser in the process. Since so far NC has not directly or indirectly questioned the truthfulness of the 26th/27th Oct 1947 Accession J&K with India and always named Pakistan as aggressor country where as this report suggests some actions to be taken that do not fit in the spirit of !947 accession of J&K. So, the report if not disposed off / rejected by MOH and if kept in the shelf , would provide some links to separatists elements / those who question accession thereby making it more difficult for NC to fight the separatist ideologies in Kashmir valley at the local political level maintaining its stand on the trueness of 1947 Accession and forcefully pursue the nationalistic view points.
11. The report reflects personal mindsets of the team members
The report appears to have nothing more than the set mindset of 3 interlocutors who have rushed through completing their assignment as was done by Justice Saghir Ahmed while drafting the report of 5th Working Group of the Prime Minister.
The Team claims having met 700 delegations and a few thousand people of 22 districts of J&K. But they have not quoted the names of the persons and the suggestions made by people outside Kashmir Valley except making some reference of Sh. Balraj Puri and Jatinder Bakshi whom they had met on their first visit first day itself. They do make reference of S. Teja Singh Ji who was Secretary of the Autonomy Committee ( and he had to be referred). No separatists leader met them in Kashmir valley but they still recommend to GOI to engage them in dialogue. Incase GOI has to engage them in dialogue , what can GOI do effectively on this report , is a question. They do say that the report is suggesting with in constitution of India but do suggest some actions for taking that surely not fall with Constitution of Inda.
They have tried to include the names of some organizations and people from outside Kashmir valley in their report but making no pointed reference to the informations and demands made by these groups / people. Do the interlocutors mean that people from outside Kashmir Valley had no worth information / suggestion to make as regards the J&K affairs from national and international point of view ? If they want to reflect so , it is surely wrong. Report has nothing as material subject to suggest to GOI other than what the Kashmir Valley leaders or the Separatists like ideologues agitate. The interlocutors have used the names of persons / organizations from outside Kashmir valley just to give a face value to their half done venture in J&K.
Since such incomplete documents can otherwise be used by the trouble makers , the report has been discussed here.