`J&K people against division of state on communal lines`

The Centre`s interlocutors said the intelligentsia in Jammu and Kashmir was against the division of the state on communal lines but favoured strengthening the special status under Article 370.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 22:27 PM IST

Srinagar: The Centre`s interlocutors on Wednesday said the intelligentsia in Jammu and Kashmir was against the
division of the state on communal lines but favoured
strengthening the special status under Article 370 and
devolution of powers to the regions and sub-regions.

"The intelligentsia unanimously felt that it is of the
utmost importance to maintain the unity and territorial
integrity of the state," Dileep Padgaonkar, who heads the
three-member panel of interlocutors, told reporters after a
two-day round-table conference here.
The participants urged that the state should be vested
with powers needed to assert its distinctive position in the
Indian union in tune with the letter and spirit of Article 370
of the Constitution, he said.

"They warned that any attempt to bifurcate or trifurcate
the state would create more problems than resolve them. Any
division along communal lines would bring intolerable pressure
to bear on the minorities living in a particular region or
sub-region," the veteran journalist said.
The conference was organised by the interlocutors and
was attended by about 50 academics, media commentators, civil
society activists and representatives of political parties
from all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The participants have reached a broad consensus on the
key principles and ideas that should form the basis of a
political settlement in the state," Padgaonkar said.

He said the participants, belonging to diverse political
and ideological streams, strongly emphasised their commitment
to democracy, the rule of law and respect for pluralism.

"By that same token, they rejected the use of violence,
religious extremism, regional chauvinism and hegemonic
ambitions of any community to attain political ends," the
chief interlocutor said.

He said the participants were unanimous in the view
that the sole focus of a political settlement should be the
restoration of the democratic rights of the people of the
state.

"Acknowledging the diverse political aspirations of
various regions and social groups including pandits, PoK
migrants, socially-disadvantaged communities and women, the
participants favoured a large-scale devolution of political,
financial and administrative powers to the regions and
sub-regions," he said.

PTI