Dileep Padgaonkar said the panel’s approach and focus will be political one and "We will, therefore, be engaging with opinion leaders, political leaders, civil society groups and others in order to carry forward this dialogue."
The group of three interlocutors will have a mandate of one year and hold consultations with all sections of opinion in the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir – Ladakh, Jammu and the Kashmir Valley.
“The mandate, to put very simply, is that our group will hold the largest possible consultations with all sections of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir and the focus of this dialogue is to seek as large an area of agreement as you can to get to arrive at a comprehensive, political settlement of the Kashmir dispute,'' journalist Dileep Padgaonkar told mediapersons after the group had a meeting with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. He will chair meetings of the group.
“Our mandate is for one year. The Minister gave us the assurance that as and when we will be coming, we will give to the government suggestions and recommendations that will emerge from the dialogue,” Mr. Padgaonkar said.
The Centre on Wednesday last named the group to hold sustained dialogue with all sections of the people. Besides Mr. Padgaonkar, the other members are M. M. Ansari, Information Commissioner, and Radha Kumar, trustee of the Delhi Policy Group.
“The government hopes that after interacting with all shades of political opinion they will suggest a way forward that truly reflects the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth,” an official release had said while announcing the appointments.
Absence of politicians
Mr. Padgaonkar refuted criticism regarding the absence of a politician on the panel which, it was said, indicated the non-serious approach of the government. “The group will address the entire range of issues with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and different shades of political opinion. If a political issue is brought to the table, the group will not shy away from discussing it. We will, therefore, be engaging with opinion leaders, political leaders, civil society groups and others in order to carry forward this dialogue,'' he said.
“We are obviously aware of the history of many initiatives that have been taken but now we have been given a wide mandate. No red lines have been drawn. We have not been told to do this or do that.
“It is, therefore, with a complete open mind that we will be going to Jammu and Kashmir as often as we can,” Mr. Padgaonkar added.
The interlocutors plan to be in the State for one week each month. The government had announced the three-member group as part of the eight-point peace package after an all-party parliamentary delegation, led by Mr. Chidambaram, visited Srinagar and Jammu on September 20 and 21.
While announcing the names, the government said all the three interlocutors had done credible work in public life and brought with them significant understanding of political and economic issues, especially in the context of Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision to begin the sustained dialogue and appoint interlocutors was taken on September 25 at a Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.