BJP, jailed separatists boycott interlocutors in Jammu


Jammu: Two of the three interlocutors on Kashmir could not meet separatist leaders in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail which they visited Wednesday evening.

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Shabir Ahmad Shah, a senior leader of the Hurriyat Conference, refused to meet the central government’s interlocutors saying that meeting them would serve no purpose. Other separatist leaders lodged in the jail also declined to meet them.

Journalist Dilip Padgaonkar and academic Radha Kumar drove to Kot Bhalwal jail, where senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi are lodged. But they could not meet them, official sources confirmed to IANS.

Padgaonkar, however, told reporters that he respected the separatist leaders and their views “but as a citizen of Republic of India I too have dignity”, implying that the interlocutors would not go beyond a point in reaching out to the separatists.

In Jammu, he declared that the interlocutors were looking to “hear the leaders and people of Jammu”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit president Shamsher Singh Manhas told reporters that the party after “weighing everything has decided to boycott the interlocutors because they had pleaded for making Pakistan a party to the Kashmir issue”.

“As Kashmir is our internal matter, how could Pakistan become a party to the issue? These remarks are unacceptable. The BJP has decided to boycott the interlocutors,” Manhas said.

Padgaonkar, during his stay in the Kashmir Valley, had said: “We are here to look for a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue…but a permanent solution is not possible without the involvement of Pakistan.”

In Jammu, he decried the separatists for not meeting the interlocutors. “We will not ask them to meet us if they are not interested,” he said.

He said the team had met everyone in the valley, except the separatists.

Padgaonkar and Kumar arrived here at the conclusion of their four-day visit to the valley. Hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani had called for boycott of the three interlocutors, the third one being information commissioner M.M. Ansari.

Padgaonkar said he was aware that “what’s palatable in the valley is not palatable in Jammu”.