July 2000 News

RAW chief was there for talks, we told him please leave - Hurriyat chairman

21 July 2000
Indian Express

Srinagar: In a startling revelation, the new Hurriyat Conference chief has said that in his dialogue with the Central Government''s interlocutors, he met the chief of the Research and Analysis Wing but refused to talk to him. In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Abdul Gani Bhat said: ''Moulvi Omar Farooq and I had a meeting with R K Mishra and RAW chiefA S Dulat was also present. But we refused to speak to him and he had toleave...'' Admitting that the meeting with Mishra (of the Observer group) did take place, Bhat said: ''In fact, we never knew the RAW chief was also in the meeting. Once he introduced himself, we requested him to leave,'' he said. ''He did try to stay back in the meeting saying he had nothing to do with Kashmir but left after I insisted.'' After returning from Delhi, Bhat said, they had put the entire story beforethe Hurriyat executive and did not hide anything. ''I want everything to beopen and transparent in the movement. If we talk, we will do it openly,''he asserted. In fact, Hurriyat leaders meeting with the RAW chief, which coincided with the proposed talks between them and the centre, became a source of controversy within the coalition. The issue again took centrestage when it was discussed at the Hurriyat''s working committee meeting a few days ago. Bhat said that he was for a ''a meaningful dialogue with anybody'' to achieve a permanent resolution to the Kashmir dispute. ''Politics is talking. Politics is going ahead and moving ahead,'' he said. ''Refusing to talk is possible if you are in a mosque or mandir, not in politics.'' Bhat, however, believes that talking should not be for the pleasure of it, but with a sincere purpose to achieve a breakthrough.'' I don''t want to waste my breath, time and energy by dragging feet into a dialogue that has no logic.'' Bhat, who represents his pro-Pakistan Muslim Conference in Hurriyat, saidthe most important thing was the prevailing situation, not only in Kashmir but in the entire sub-continent. ''Being rigid on the traditional positions is not feasible. How can one ignore the weaponisation of South Asia which is most important and most dangerous as well?'' he said. Reacting to the initiation of much talked about dialogue with Delhi, Bhat felt it was not a proper time to comment on it. ''I want to talk about everything first in our own forum,'' he said. ''The Hurriyat Conference is not a political party. It is a political coalition. A forum where all of us as its constituents have our own individual political stands as well,'' he sought to clarify. The 63-year-old former Persian professor, who is known for his controversialstand favouring division of Jammu and Kashmir State in accordance with theDixon plan, said he was still for the division to reach a permanent settlement. ''But as the Hurriyat Chairman, I have to abide by the decision taken by the coalition. My party position can be different but the collective decision of the forum is ultimate,'' he said. He said the fact that many Kashmiris want to live together irrespective of their religion or political moorings has to be taken into account. ''When a Kashmiri Hindu meets his Muslim neighbour in Delhi, both start crying. It has to be taken into consideration,'' he said, adding he was not even averse to a dialogue with Kashmiri pandits. When asked whether the differences that surfaced and sharpened recently inHurriyat would lead to its disintegration, Bhat said, ''Nobody can afford to leave the Hurriyat even if one wants to do so. It is a compulsion,'' he claimed. He said the relations between various constituents in the conglomerate have reached a stage where nobody can Hurriyat to chose him as the chief, Bhat called it the ''first example of a genuine democratic process.''


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