Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar meet PC sans Ansari
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 22:34
New Delhi: The rift among Centre's interlocutors on Kashmir appears to have widened further on Wednesday with only two panel members--Dileep Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar--meeting Union Home Minister P Chidambaram while M M Ansari was conspicuous by his absence.

The meeting lasted for nearly an hour and came against the backdrop of and Padgaonkar and Kumar coming under severe criticism from Ansari, who is in the three-member panel, over their participation in conferences abroad that are organised by organisations being run by Pakistan's spy agency ISI.

Padgaonkar attempted to downplay the absence of Ansari by saying that "there was some communication gap" while Ansari, a former Chief Information Commissioner, said the explanation was not "believeable".

Ansari has been critical of both Padgaonkar and Kumar participating in the conferences which came to light after the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Kashmiri-American, accused by the FBI of receiving ISI funds for organising meetings.

Kumar, who heads the Nelson Mandela Institute of Peace in Jamia Milia Islamia, had openly expressed her anger over the "smear campaign" indulged in by Ansari in regard to her participation in such an international conference.

Accompanied by Kumar, Padgaonkar said the focus of the meeting with the Home Minister was on the report.

"We will be spending considerable time with him (Chidambaram) after August 15," he told PTI.

Asked about the absence of Ansari, he said "there was a communication gap. There is no problem. Whenever we will visit Jammu and Kashmir again, all three of us will be going."

However, Ansari, a former bureaucrat, when contacted claimed that he had not been invited at all. "It is not believeable that there is a communication gap. I was in office whole day and my phone was perfectly in order.

"The purpose of the meeting is not clear to me and it is quite early or premature for me to say anything at this stage," Ansari said.

A furious Kumar had submitted a letter to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram protesting against the remarks made by Ansari about her attending a European Parliament conference organised by the Tramboo Centre in 2006 in Brussels.

The Centre is run by Abdul Majeed Tramboo, a barrister and a Kashmiri from the Valley, who is said to be under the scanner for his association with the Pakistani establishment, ISI and Ghulam Nabi Fai.

Kumar has refused to take any financial remuneration for functioning as Centre's interlocutor of Kashmir and also not attend any further meetings with Ansari.

"I am angry about the smear campaign being indulged into by Ansari," Kumar had said.

After the arrest of Fai earlier last month, the name of Padgaonkar and Kumar started surfacing in the context of their having attended meetings organised by Fai.

Soon after Ansari had said in Kashmir there was an air of suspicion as nobody believed the other person and asked "how can you join a conference without knowing the credibility of the individuals and the institutions".

This remark was an apparent reference to Padgaonkar's statement expressing ignorance about the organisers of the conference.

Ansari acknowledged that his two panel colleagues were unhappy over his remarks whereby he had asked them to put their foreign visits on public domain to avoid media speculation.

Chidambaram had made light of Padgaonkar and Kumar's participating in conferences organised by Fai.


First Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 22:34

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