Interlocutors to begin Kashmir mission Saturday

October 23rd, 2010 - 1:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Srinagar, Oct 23 (IANS) The three newly appointed interlocutors on Kashmir are expected to arrive here Saturday amid boycott calls from separatists.

“Noted journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and information commissioner M.M. Ansari are arriving here Saturday on their first visit to the Kashmir Valley after being nominated as interlocutors,” an informed source here told IANS.

Both the hardline and the moderate Hurriyat groups headed by Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq respectively have stated they would not meet the interlocutors and also asked local trade and student unions not to meet them.

Padgaonkar has, however, expressed hope that the team would be able to break the ice and meet a cross-section of Kashmir society during their four-day visit.

Talking to local English newspaper ‘Greater Kashmir’ over phone, Padgaonkar said: “We have not prepared any schedule for the meetings. As and when people wish to meet us we will be welcoming them. We will try to meet as many people as possible.”

Geelani has said he would not meet the interlocutors unless the central government accepts the Kashmir issue as an international dispute.

The three interlocutors had met Manmohan Singh Thursday and said the prime minister wanted them to look for a political solution to the dragging crisis in the state and especially speak to “youths and women”.

Thousands of people have died since insurgency began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. While things were beginning to look up last year, the state was plunged into a fresh crisis after stone-pelting protesters started clashing with the security forces. At least 110 people have been killed in the ongoing unrest since June 11.

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