Hurriyat deputes Lone to meet Kofi Annan
12 March 2001
The Times of India
The Times of India News Service
SRINAGAR: The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on Monday expressed its desire to meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to apprise him of the Kashmir situation and deputed its senior member Abdul Gani Lone for the purpose. Six of the seven executive members of the Hurriyat met here in the morning to discuss various issues, including Union home minister L.K. Advani's statement that the Hurriyat was not a party to the Kashmir problem, besides Annan's coming visit to the Capital and the issue of retention of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jamiat-e-Islami representative in the conglomerate, after the Jamiat chief rejected the suggestion that Geelani be replaced on the Hurriyat executive. Geelani was not present at the meeting. Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat said after the meeting that Lone would be sent to New Delhi to explore the possibility of meeting Annan to apprise him of the Kashmir issue and the alleged human rights violations by the security forces. On Advani's statement, he said it was unfortunate that the home minister wanted the principal party to the dispute to act as a mediator. The meeting was attended by Bhat, Lone, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Moulvi Abas Ansari and JKLF representative Bashir Ahmad Bhat. The APHC spokesman said Geelani was not invited to attend the meeting where his retention as the Jamiat-e-Islami representative in the conglomerate was to be discussed. The executive, however, decided to retain Geelani. Geelani told newsmen that he was kept out of the meeting, but dispelled rumours of a split in the APHC. Replying to queries about the visible cracks in the conglomerate, he said a Hurriyat split would be avoided at every cost. The Hurriyat chairman said the executive decided to retain Geelani as Jamiat representative. "We respect the feelings of the Jamiat chief and agreed to retain Geelani," Bhat said. Meanwhile, Geelani reiterating his earlier stand, said that the Kashmir problem was not a political but a religious issue. In Islam, politics was part of religion and could not be separated from it, Geelani said. Reacting to the Kofi Annan's statement, he said the UN should identify the party putting hurdles in the way to the resolution of the Kashmir problem. He also lashed out at the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and other like-minded organisations for hurting the sentiments of minorities by attacking their religious places. He also asked the people to observe a bandh on March 16 to protest against the alleged desecration of the holy book in the Capital.