The immediate response to the announcement of three interlocutors "to hold talks with all shades of opinion including the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir as part of efforts to bring peace in the state" have been greeted with at best a more tepid than lukewarm response. Because of other things, this post is just a compilation of some of the recent op-eds in mainstream media:
On the recent statement by Omar Abdullah that " Kashmir acceded to India and, unlike Hyderabad and Junagadh, did not merge with India", General S.K. Sinha, the former governor of J&K:
...the hair-splitting distinction between accession and merger is meaningless. It may be mentioned that in the earlier two centuries many Princely States, including Kashmir, acceded to the British Crown but the people of those states were not given British nationality. It was refreshing that during the nuclear debate in Parliament in 2008, Omar rightly won accolade for asserting his Indian nationality.
Omar’s irritation over Kashmir being described as an integral part of India was uncalled for. That has been our national stand and not that of any particular party as such. Neither his father nor his grandfather ever contested this. On February 22, 1994 the Indian Parliament passed a unanimous resolution asserting that Kashmir is an integral part of India and directing that Kashmir territory illegally occupied by Pakistan be liberated. The National Conference representative in Parliament supported that resolution. [Read on at the Asian Age]
Wajahat Habibullah, the former Chief Information Commissioner and a former interlocutor on J&K, on the same question:
That rather confused me, but in a way it is true because the Constitution of India does not apply to J&K, and they are governed by Article 370 which is a special provision which gives accession of J&K to India. Yes, J&K is different from Hyderabad and Junagarh.
So far as the CM talked of disputed area, he is being accused of voicing Mr Geelani. The Government of India takes objection. But let me draw attention to the Shimla Agreement which has a simple clause regarding J&K. It said we will (bilaterally) discuss all issues, including J&K. So what does it mean? It means that we have agreed that there is a difference or a dispute which we have agreed to discuss with each other. On its part, Pakistan agreed that it is no longer an issue which concerns the United Nations. But this is something they have not come to terms with. But the fact is that from both sides there was a concession, so what is the need to be alarmist about it? I believe that J&K is an integral part of India, but it is the people in that part who do not feel so.
Also, in 1994, Parliament acknowledged there is a dispute since a part of the state is occupied by Pakistan. So there is a dispute whichever way we may look at it. So, you can use this word and there is no need to be alarmed about it. Mr Omar Abdullah’s statement has not been able to establish lucidity. Now he is on very delicate ground. [Read on at the Asian Age]
On the way ahead, Balraj Puri:
In this background, the known differences between the national parties and the separatists of Kashmir, as also between the mainstream parties of Kashmir and Jammu, need to be discussed. The first step should be to reconcile the urges and needs of the regional diversities with which the state is blessed. The failure to do so is the single most important cause of all complications in what is called the Kashmir problem.
A concrete step was taken in reconciling regional aspirations by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah when they signed the Delhi Agreement in 1952. This not only provided for the state's autonomy but also included, on my suggestion, a provision for regional autonomy. Whatever the BJP might say today, it is a recorded fact that the Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder, Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, eventually agreed to support the agreement.
The State Peoples' Convention, convened by Sheikh Abdullah in 1968 and which included the entire political spectrum of the Kashmir region except the ruling Congress, unanimously accepted my draft for an internal Constitution of the state which provided for regional autonomy and devolution of power at district, block and village levels, whatever be the final solution regarding the status of the state. [Read more: Starting point Of dialogue - The Times of India]
Also on J&K, two contrasting views: from the CPI and the BJP