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Updated: June 3, 2011 01:14 IST

Kashmir needs special attention, says Sajjad Lone

Shujaat Bukhari
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People's Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone
The Hindu
People's Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone

People in entire State are for unity: Dileep Padgaonkar

New Delhi should make the dialogue process in Jammu and Kashmir inclusive and credible, People's Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone said here on Thursday. “Dialogue is the only way forward to solve the Kashmir issue and the aspirations of the majority need to be respected.”

Mr. Lone was speaking at a conclave on “India's Foreign Policy,” jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Political Science Department of the Kashmir University.

Centre's interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir Dileep Padgaonkar said his team was working towards a political dialogue, which “will help in evolving a broad consensus on a solution acceptable to both the people of the State and India.”

“Do not mix grievances with aspirations,” Mr. Lone said, while making a strong case to give the Kashmir problem a special attention. “There might be grievances in Ladakh and Jammu, but people in Kashmir have been fighting for their aspirations and made enormous sacrifices in the last 20 years… If this civilised mode [of dialogue] is not adopted in Kashmir, the next phase will again be of violence.” He said Kashmiris, in fact, had no reason to believe this process would work keeping in view the past experiences.

Mr. Lone said that after he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he prepared a document which he could not claim be final. “But there was not even an acknowledgement. I was punished by denying visa to my family,” he said. He took a dig at the interlocutors, asking them not to “dissect the monolithic identity of Kashmir and project them as a fragmented lot.”

“We cannot fight India with stones and guns but only by putting things on the table. I am a firm believer in dialogue and that is the only way forward. But the onus of changing perception lies on New Delhi.”

Mr Lone said the Pakistan angle was important in resolving the Kashmir issue and both dimensions needed to be addressed simultaneously. “Pakistan cannot defeat India and get Kashmir by war. And I don't see India handing over Kashmir to Pakistan.” He stressed on the involvement of all shades of opinion to find a solution.Mr. Padgaonkar said that after interacting with the people in all regions of the State in the last eight months, they found that people in the entire State were for unity. “We are now working on a political dialogue to evolve a broader consensus so that there is no impression that a solution was foisted on the State by Delhi.”

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