Disagreement in Panel of 3 Interlocutors in Jammu & Kashmir
In October 2010, Government of India had appointed a group of three interlocutors to hold sustained dialogue with all sections of the people in Jammu and Kashmir. They were:
- Dr. Dileep Padgaonkar: Shri Dileep Padgaonkar is a journalist, editor and author. He worked in various capacities in journalistic field including Executive Editor and Editor of the Times of India..
- Prof. M.M. Ansari: Prof. M.M. Ansari was Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commission, New Delhi. He has the background of an Economist and Education Specialist and has served several institutions in senior positions and provided research and consultancy service to national and international organizations
- Prof. (Mrs) Radha Kumar: Prof. (Mrs) Radha Kumar is Director of the Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Jamia Millia Islamia University and trustee of the Delhi Policy Group..
The interlocutors are a part of an 8 point programme of the centre. This 8 point programme is as follows:
- A group of interlocutors, which would include eminent citizens, would be appointed to hold dialogue with all sections of society of J&K, including youth, students, political parties and separatists.
- All youth detained for charges like stone pelting would be released. The Home Minister clarified that all 245 youth, who are currently detained or arrested would be released. He strongly rejected reports that thousands of youth were currently in prisons.
- Centre will request J&K government to review cases of Public Safety Act(PSA) detainees and withdraw detention cases.
- Centre will give Rs 5 lakh as relief money to family of victims who have died in clashes with the security forces during the unrest.
- A task force each would be set up for both Jammu and Laddakh to assess implications of the situation in Kashmir in these two regions. It will also examine the developmental needs of the two regions, with particular reference to deficiencies in infrastructure and make suitable recommendations.
- The Centre will request the state government to re-open all schools and colleges in the state. Special classes or lectures, to be held if necessary to ensure that the examinations for the current academic year (2010-11) are conducted.
- Additionally, Rs 100 crore of central grant would be given to rebuild infrastructure for schools and colleges including classrooms, libraries, playgrounds etc.
- Unified Command Meet to be held to review of provisions of Disturbed Area Act. . There would be de-scaling of barricades and check points to ease movement of civilians in public areas.
The group of 3 interlocutors was supposed to prepare a roadmap for settling the Kashmir issue. But today, there are open disagreements among them.
Why this disagreement?
This agreement has arisen due to remarks of one of the interlocutors viz. M M Ansari, against his colleague, Dileep Padgaonkar, criticizing him for attending conferences organized by Kashmiri American Council, organized by Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was recently arrested by FBI.
Who is Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai?
Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai is an American citizen of Kashmiri origin. On July 19, 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested him for allegedly working secretly for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to lobby and influence the U.S. government on the Kashmir conflict in violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act.
He was born in Badgam district of Jammu & Kashmir and did his MA from Aligarh University. From there he went to US to do PhD and became US citizen thereafter. In US he became the director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) formed by some members of the Kashmiri Diaspora.
KAC is best known for holding annual Kashmir Peace conference in Washington, D.C. KAC says the it does not get any foreign funding, but now it has been alleged that Fai received from $500,000 to $700,000 per year by the Government of Pakistan to hijack the ”Kashmir issue” in the US. He was bankrolled by Pakistanis and their intelligence agency ISI. He falsified facts, distorted perspective, and exaggerated issues, blustering and buying his way into American political discourse, proving himself a true Pakistani Lobbyst than a Kashmiri Activist.
Fai is accused of being on its payroll for 20 years and funnelling its cash into the US to influence lawmakers on Kashmir, feel federal prosecutors, who also claim that the Kashmiri separatist had lived “a life of lies”.
What is the controversy?
Planning Commission had attacked both Dileep Padgaonkar and Kumar for attending Kashmir conferences by Ghulam Nabi Fai and Majeed Tramboo, respectively. Fai and Tramboo have been exposed as fully paid agents of ISI. MM Ansari said that “The revelation that Mr Padgaonkar attended an ISI-backed conference and Radha Kumar went for a similar one in Brussels damaged our credibility. In their place, I would’ve quit,” In response, Padgaonkar said, “When I was the editor of The Times of India, my subeditors represented a spectrum of political views, from extreme Left to Right. But once the editor decided, it was the party line. We are on track and shall submit our report to the government.”
Then Radha Kumar also offered to quit, which was not accepted by the Government. Differences between the interlocutors have been around for some time. The panel has been giving finishing touches to the final report for the government, though a copy of the interim report has apparently been leaked.