Mufti asks Centre to invite Hurriyat ''formally''
16 June 2000
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayaz
Srinagar: Former Union Home Minister and president of Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has intensified his activity against National Conference (NC) at a time when the ruling party is initiating a weeklong debate on the issue of greater autonomy for the State. He has called for a probe into the ''illegal property and wealth accumulated by the Chief Minister, Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats'' and expressed his apprehensions that the ruling establishment would sabotage the process of the proposed dialogue with Hurriyat so as to retain the power for good. While addressing a news conference at his residence - after the 2-day meeting of PDP''s executive - Mufti Mohammad Sayeed claimed that NC''s bogey of greater autonomy was nothing but an effort of Farooq Abdullah ''to hoodwink the people and blackmail the Centre'' in order to retain the power for a long time. When asked what exactly would be PDP''s treatment vis-a-vis a possible resolution on autonomy, Mufti categorically said that there would be no resolution. He suggested that the ruling establishment had called the special session of the Legislative Assembly ''intriguingly'' at a time when the Government of India was planning to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Hurriyat and militant leaders. Inspite of his rhetoric against the intensions of Dr Abdullah''s party, Mufti fumbled when journalists cornered him on the issue of PDP''s policy vis-a-vis autonomy. ''Why should we tell you beforehand?'' was his reply. When the unconvinced Press corps did not relent, Mufti dithered and said: ''koi doosri baat karo''. Mufti welcomed the BJP-led Central Government''s suggestion of entering into a dialogue with Kashmir''s separatist leadership but stressed on the necessity of creating a ''positive atmosphere'' for a meaningful exercise. He described the release of Hurriyat leaders as a right step in the right direction but wondered that at the same time security forces and Special Task Force had begun ''more abuse of human rights''. He observed a ''marked increase'' in the incidents of ''custodial killings and bloodshed'' since the release of Hurriyat leaders. Mufti said it was high time for the Centre to extend the ''formal invitation'' of talks to the Hurriyat as also to make an ''appeal'' to militants for cessation of hostilities. The PDP supremo stressed on the involvement of Pakistan in the process of negotiations and warned that ''mere transfer of power'' on the pattern of Indira-Abdullah Accord of 1975 would be fraught with dangerous political uncertainties in future. He parried queries how the Hurriyat could be deemed as the representative of pan-Islamist guerrilla outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jiash-e-Mohammad who had already dismissed any kind of talks and were the real masters of the armed turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, in its Economic Resolution, PDP called for a probe by a retired judge of Supreme Court of India into the ''illegal property and wealth accumulated by the Chief Minister, Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats after 1996'' as also publication of the report and the prosecution of the ''guilty''. The comprehensive resolution called for an economic-cum-developmental package with stress on employment to the educated youth, sending the skilled youth for a job to overseas and a reasonable sustenance allowance in favour of all unemployed in the State. The resolution suggested that the electricity tariff be charged from consumers in accordance with the actual supply and consumption. It called for an immediate roll-back of the ''unwarranted hike in prices'' and demanded that need-based developmental schemes be taken up on priority basis. The PDP resolution demanded GPF deductions of Government employees on Passbooks and suggested that the same be posted into the accounts by banks without any delay. It also called for releasing of COLA in favour of public sector employees.