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Interlocutors meet Abbas Ansari

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JammuKashmir watch

Srinagar, New Delhi’s interlocutors on Kashmir disclosed that in their first ‘formal’ meeting with separatist leadership, senior Hurriyat (M) leader and chairman of Itihad-ul-Muslimeen, Maulana Abbas Ansari on Wednesday showed the willingness to engage with Government of India if New Delhi took steps for creating a “conducive atmosphere”.

“This morning the interlocutors met Maulana Abbas Ansari , the chairman of Itihadul Muslimeen, at his residence to discuss ways and means to carry forward the dialogue process which will lead to a peaceful settlement of Jammu and Kashmir issue. The discussion lasting little over an hour was conducted in a cordial and constructive spirit. Maualana Ansari informed us that he favoured talks with the GOI to arrive at such a settlement. It had to be held at an appropriate level with the representatives of separatist groups and in the presence of interlocutors,” veteran journalist, Dileep Padgaonkar, flanked by the other two interlocutors- told reporters during a press conference here.

He said the meeting was arranged by an “intermediary”, terming it as a success for “the dialogue process, for all those in state and beyond who want peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.”

“This is our first formal interaction with a top separatist leader, and Maulana Abbas has shown commitment to peace in the past,” he said.

According to Padgaonkar, Maualana Ansari stressed that perceptible changes on the ground were required to inculcate trust in people of Jammu and Kashmir. “Maulana Abbas said that the initial talks should focus on the four point agenda of Hurriyat(M) and on steps for conducive atmospheres,” Padgaonkar said .

“Abbas Ansari said that the New Delhi should allow Hurriyat(M) leaders to visit Pakistan to persuade the leaders there as well as Pakistan Administered Kashmir to get all the stake holders agree on a settlement that would satisfy all,” he added.

Padgaonkar said that Ansari and the interlocutors agreed to meet again to ensure “that dialogue process would be sustained.”

“This alone would guarantee that incremental progress is made to reach a political settlement in the state within a specified time frame. Maulana Abbas reiterated that people of Jammu and Kashmir were the real stake holders,” he said.

In response to a query, Padgaonkar said the interlocutors had no “ego problem in meeting separatists, and the moment they get “any sort of signal we would be willing to meet them.”
Commenting on the two-day round table conference, Padgaonkar said a wide range of opinions came up and the focus of the meet was on getting insight about a possible political solution of Jammu and Kashmir

“Close to 50 academics, media commentators, civil society activists, and representatives of political parties from all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir have reached a broad consensus on the key principles and ideas that should form the basis of a political settlement of the state. Participants at the two day round table conference strongly emphasized their commitment to democracy, pluralism and rule of law and by that same token they rejected the use of violence, religious extremism, regional chauvinism to achieve political ends,” he said.

“They were of the view that the whole focus of political settlement should be restoration of political rights of the people. And for the primary stake holders , their physical, psychological, economic , political, cultural insecurities have to be addressed to enable them to lead a peaceful life with honour and dignity,” Padgaonkar said.

“To attain this objective, the participants stressed that it would be of utmost importance to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of the state and to uphold its special status in the Indian union in letter and spirit. Attempts to bifurcate and trifurcate the state would create more problems, division among communal lines pressure on minorities,” he said.

He said the participants were for the State to be vested with powers in lieu of Article 370, roads between two parts without bureaucratic hassles, compensation for water resources, improving governance.

On a query about their statement on security forces having a stake in the state, Padgoankar said, “Security forces do have a stake in the state in the sense that they are deployed in Kashmir to take care of India’s internal and external security interest.”

He said the interlocutors had only discussed educational matters with slain Jamiat chief Moulana Showkat Ahmad Shah.