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People of Kashmir want peace: Dileep Padgaonkar

December 21, 2010 - Jammu

Dileep Padgaonkar, a senior journalist and one of the interlocutors appointed by the Centre to seek out various shades of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir, after his visit to the border district of Rajouri and Poonch on Tuesday said the people want peace in the region.

"There was no talk of azaadi (freedom) or in fact, of any other thing. I think, by and large, people dwelt on the difficulties they face in day-to-day life and asked for swifter measures to develop those regions in an economic, social sense," said Padgaonkar.

"The big demand everywhere is that there ought to be effective devolution of political, administrative and financial resources to the three regions, and in each region there should be further and effective devolution of these very same resources down to the district, block and Panchayat (village) levels," he added.

Padgaonkar further said the decisions that are acceptable to the local public are the ones that would form a durable solution.

"The main things that emerged from our discussion so far are that number one, people are yearning for a negotiated peaceful political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir. The second major finding so far has been that anything that respond to the political, social and economic aspirations of the people of the state, which are acceptable to the people of the state, that alone can form the basis of a durable solution," he said.

The interlocutors began their third visit to the state from December 17, following which they will most probably submit the "broad contours" for a political settlement to the decades-old issue.

The three-member panel headed by Padgaonkar, along with academician Radha Kumar and Central Information Commissioner M. M. Ansari will wind up their visit on December 23.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, appointed the three-member panel on October 13 to ascertain the cross section of opinions, including that of separatists.

The three interlocutors had submitted their first report to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on November 2.

They gave a list of recommendations to the government on Kashmir which they said can't be made public.

They also maintained that they would continue making regular trips to Kashmir to keep the dialogue going.

"We handed over the report of our first visit to Jammu and Kashmir to the Home Minister. It gives our preliminary assessment of the situation, as we perceived it. We have also given a series of recommendations and suggestions to address the kind of problems that are faced in different regions of the state, and by different sections of the population in the state," Padgaonkar told reporters last month.


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