Hizb plan new party for 2002 J & K elections
19 October 2000
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The Hizbul Mujahideen and other Kashmiri groups are seriously exploring the possibility of forming a united political party to contest the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections in 2002. Moves are afoot to give shape to this proposal emanating from the Hizb with a view to taking over the administration in the sensitive border state. The Hizb has reportedly been in touch with other groups, including terrorist outfits operating out of Pakistan, to join or support the proposed political party. The basic condition is that all groups should be part of the new party so that there is no division in the Valley vote during the election. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference has been urged to dissolve the organisation and merge into the new party. The Hurriyat has been reluctant to do so but is convening a meeting in Srinagar on October 23 and 24 to review the political situation in the state where this issue is likely to come up. Hurriyat spokesperson in New Delhi Abdul Majid Banday, however, insisted that it is “too premature” to raise this issue and that the two-day meeting would discuss the political situation in the state. Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, who was in Iran, and is at present in the US, is likely to attend this meeting. The Hurriyat has been under attack in the Valley. Posters targeting the Hurriyat have been pasted on the walls suggesting that its leaders have lost their mass base and have accumulated money. Despite this, a public meeting organised by Abdul Ghani Lone recently drew a good crowd. JKLF leader Yasin Malik has also been eliciting considerable support in the Valley. The Hizb is of the view that it cannot make any substantive gains through just negotiations with New Delhi, and that the Kashmiri cause would be best served through attaining power in the state. It is also of the view that there can be no division within the militant outfits and all should contest the election under the umbrella of the new political party. The assessment is that the new party will eclipse the National Conference and, if it succeeds in attaining power, it will be in a position to bargain for a “new future” for Kashmir. Overtures have also been made to leaders like Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to join the proposed party, although this could not be confirmed. Mr Sayeed is opposed to the National Conference and has always had serious differences with chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Delhi has also been far more favourably inclined towards a dialogue with the Hizb than with the Hurriyat or Dr Abdullah, whose autonomy formula for the state has been put in cold storage. The chief minister is not pressing the issue. The Hizb, which had declared an unilateral ceasefire to pave the way for negotiations with New Delhi, had run into trouble with the other terrorist outfits who had questioned the move. The ceasfire had been subsequently withdrawn with the Hizb beginning work on a political alternative in Kashmir. It has now made it known that the new political party, if formed with unanimous support, will contest the Assembly elections to acquire a legitimate voice in and outside the Valley and steer events towards results it desires.