December 2000 News

Hurriyat leaders sink differences; vow not to desert ''movement''

22 December 2000
The Indian Express

Srinagar: After welcoming Centre''s one-month extension of ceasefire on Thursday, the Hurriyat Conference today explained their position before the people at the Jumatul-Vida and pledged not to desert the ''movement'' and work unitedly for final settlement of Kashmir. All the seven members of the conglomerate''s executive council descended on the historic Jama Masjid in a bid to show solidarity to people and vowed to sink differences on the perception of solving the problem. ''We are one, we talk one, we have one goal, one road to tread on, one path-one perception and one religion-one faith. All the Hurriyat leaders have, feel and know one destination and that is to explore the possibility of solving the Kashmir tangle forever,'' Hurriyat chairman Professor Gani Bhat told a surging crowd of around one lakh who had gathered at the mosque. Bhat''s short speech was interrupted repeatedly by loud cheering and pro-independence and pro-Pakistan slogans by the people, who had also come to offer the last Friday prayers of the Ramzan. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front supremo Mohammad Yasin Malik, while vouching for unity among the Hurriyat cadres, said, ''We should shun the past mistakes and start forging ties with each other. By doing so, we will be talking from a position of strength.'' ''There is a great need to be unanimous once we go for the talks. If we flounder on the table, it will be a big loss to the Kashmiris,'' Malik said. He added the Hurriyat needed to go to Pakistan to talk to the Mujahideen leaders, who form a core group to the problem. ''History is witness when tussle between Kashmiri leadership resulted in the floundering of the peace process. Since 1931 to 1965, we have lost many opportunities to talk on Kashmir with the Government of India,'' he said. On extension of ceasefire by the Centre, Malik, though welcoming it, said it will be premature to spell out whether the overture speaks of India''s new designs, posture or its sincerity. Veteran Jamat leader and Hurriyat heavyweight Syed Ali Shah Geelani maintained that Pakistan is a basic party to the Kashmir dispute and said the ceasefire means nothing unless efforts are made by India to hold a trilateral dialogue with Pakistan. ''Let the Centre release the passports of Hurriyat leaders for Pakistan on January 15. Some of us will go to that country and talk to the Mujahideens,'' he said.


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