The J&K report that Chidambaram shies away from unveiling

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By: Iftikhar Gilani
Embroiled in controversies, Union home minister P Chidambaram seems to be in no mood to put the Kashmir interlocutors’ report in the public domain, lest it opens another can of worms.
The group of interlocutors led by noted journalist Dileep Padgaonkar and comprising Radha Kumar and MM Ansari, who met him in his office last week, had reportedly pressed the minister for making the report public. But they could not elicit any promise from the minister, who, however, asked them to remain available for a possible all-party meeting, for explaining provisions to the leaders.
“The report has been put in cold storage. We have no idea when it will be made public,” an interlocutor said. But, what has exuded confidence in them is that prime minister Manmohan Singh — having recently identified Jammu and Kashmir as one amongst dozen thrust areas for his continuous monitoring — may convene an all-party meeting and take critical decisions on the implementation of this report.
What has raised hackles in the government circles is the interlocutors’ recommendations to set up three separate regional councils of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and reorganisation of the state assembly with equal number of seats to three regions.
Not only does it amount to communal division of the state, but it would also end Valley’s political edge in the assembly, creating another bout of instability in the Muslim-dominated regions.
Recommending setting up of a constitutional committee to renegotiate a political pact between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir, the report — copy of it is available with DNA — also calls for granting “financial autonomy” and renegotiating a financial arrangement. The report, while rejecting changing nomenclatures of governor and chief minister in English, however, says the nomenclature could be changed solely used in communication in Urdu. So a governor can be called as Sadre-e-Riyasat and chief minister as Wazir-e-Azam, but only, while communicating in Urdu.
The report also rejects chief minister Omar Abdullah’s oft repeated assertion disassociating a political solution with governance.
“Governance and political solution cannot be seen in isolation,” says an interlocutor. During the course of their study, they found the attitude of officials lack adaisical, resulting in perpetual deprivation of services and believing it was a cause of frustration and unhappiness.
Other Important Recommendations:
Replace ‘temporary’ for Article 370:
The panel recommended replacing the word “Temporary” from the heading of Article 370 and from the title of Part XXI of the Constitution with the word “Special”. Parliament should make no laws applicable to the state — unless it relates to the country’s security and its vital economic interests especially in areas of energy and access to the state’s water resources.
Appointment of guv: The state government, after consultation with the opposition parties, shall submit a list of three names to the President. The proportion of officers from the all India services should be gradually reduced in favour of the officers from the state services.
Dialogue process: The government should revive dialogue with the separatists at the earliest. The CC recommendations be discussed with authorities in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), as well.
Cross-LOC CBM: Jammu and Kashmir should be made a bridge between the south and central Asia. This includes opening of all routes across the LoC and easing trade and travel. The development of joint institutions across the LoC for development, resource generation and other matters is also necessary.
Security-related-CBM: Establishing a judicial commission to look into unmarked graves, amendment of the Public Safety Act (PSA), review of the disturbed areas Act (DAA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), reduction in the presence of security forces and rationalisation of the security installations as also early vacation of industrial establishments by the security forces.
The report concludes that no political outfit, whether mainstream or off-stream, could claim to be the sole spokesman of the people of the Valley, let alone of the state as a whole. Rivalries between the state’s political parties also contribute to the volatility on the ground.

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