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