Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday asked the three government-appointed interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir to refrain from giving “ball-by-ball” commentary on the dialogue process being undertaken by them.
“The point is that media should not ask and interlocutors should not give ball-by-ball commentary. They are there for interlocution, it is not a cricket match,” Mr. Chidambaram told journalists, while presenting his Ministry's progress report for October.
His observation came a day after Dileep Padgaonkar, eminent journalist and one of the three interlocutors, told a television channel that a member from a militant outfit had told them during their recent visit to the Valley that they might present to the interlocutors a road map for peace in the troubled State.
Besides Mr. Padgaonkar, noted academician Radha Kumar and Central Information Commissioner M.M. Ansari were appointed interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir on October 13 as per the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The three have been mandated to hold a sustained and uninterrupted dialogue with all sections of the people of the State.
The interlocutors paid their first week-long visit to Srinagar and Jammu from October 23.
Kashmir Valley was rocked by violent protests, stone-pelting incidents, police firing and strikes since June. As many as 111 people have been killed in the violence, mostly in firing by security forces.
The Home Minister who visited Ladakh region as well as Srinagar over the week-end said the situation in the Valley was “returning to normal.”
He said that after the recent visit of the all-party delegation to the State, “there is a sense of expectation that the political problem of Jammu and Kashmir will be addressed in all seriousness.”
He said the interlocutors had, to some extent, changed the discourse in the State. “I sincerely hope that the people in the State will give peace a chance and give dialogue a chance,” he added.
Responding to a query on the BJP's criticism of remarks made by interlocutors, Mr. Chidambaram said: “If the BJP wants the dialogue process to succeed, it should exercise restraint and not make these baseless allegations.”
Asked if the Delhi police would file a case against writer Arundhati Roy for her remarks on Jammu and Kashmir at a seminar in the capital recently, Mr. Chidambaram said the police not filing a case against her alleged seditious speech was in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law. “Not taking action is also an action,” he said.
“Section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code [related to sedition] is for deterrence and punishment. The spirit of the law and true interpretation of the law is that unless there is direct incitement to violence, the State must show tolerance and forbearance. The Delhi Police is acting in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law,” he said.
To another question about the attack on the writer's residence here by BJP women cell activists, Mr. Chidambaram said, “I do not think there was any attack on her residence. If there is a specific request, we will provide her security.”