December 2000 News

No talks as yet between J&K separatists and Indian leadership

6 December 2000
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Three days after top Kashmiri separatist leaders arrived in New Delhi, no contact has been established with the top Indian leadership. ''We have not met anybody,'' Abdul Gani Bhat, chairman of the All Party Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference told AFP on Wednesday. Expectations of talks between the government and the Hurriyat - an alliance of two dozen separatist political parties - were high after New Delhi suspended counter-insurgency operations against Kashmiri militant gropus on November 27. On Monday, Bhat had said he was ready for talks with both India and Pakistan. Describing the month-long ceasefire as a ''pleasing'' and ''healthy development,'' Bhat had said it generated a ''propitious'' atmosphere for talks to solve the Kashmir issue. Reports from Sringar on Sunday had said Bhat''s visit to New Delhi was planned with talks in mind. However, Indian officials said there was ''nothing scheduled'' between the Hurriyat and Home Minister L.K. Advani or Home Secretary Kamal Pandey. ''The Hurriyat leaders are not likely to meet any ministers like Mr. Advani or even the prime minister,'' said former foreign secretary J.N. Dixit. ''It is more likely that they will meet middle level home ministry officials,'' Dixit added. India''s high commissioner to Pakistan Vijay Nambiar is in New Delhi for consultations, following Islamabad''s announcement that it would excercise ''maximum restraint'' along the Line of Control, dividing Indian and Pakistani administered Kashmir. New Delhi on Tuesday rejected Islamabad''s demand for tripartite Kashmir talks, involving Pakistan, India and the Hurriyat. The current ceasefire in the region was offered by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. It was the first time the Indian government had offered a unilateral ceasefire in Muslim-majority Kashmir since the launch in 1989 of the separatist insurgency that has since claimed 34,000 lives. Vajpayee''s inititative was rejected by most militant groups and the violence has continued.


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