May 2001 News

We’ll talk with the Centre but alone, says Hurriyat

19 May 2001
The Indian Express
Tariq Bhat

Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference today said it has not slammed its door on talks with the Centre. It has just demanded that only it be allowed to talk because it enjoys true representative character. Hurriyat executive Abdul Gani Lone said this at a seminar on the Kashmir Issue and Tripartite talks, organised by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s Awami Action Committee (AAC) along with the Hurriyat Conference to pay homage to late Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq. Farooq was killed on May 21, 1990. Lone said: ‘‘We have not closed our door for talks. We’ll talk but not along with the others. The invitation to other parties and leaders is unjustified because they are pro-India. ‘‘It is a ploy worked out by India to dwarf Hurriyat’s representative character. India will tell the international community that except Hurriyat all parties have agreed. We stand to lose in such a situation.’’ He said the constitution of the Hurriyat envisages independence as an option. This was an obvious reference to pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who recently rejected independence as an option in Pakistan. Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said India cannot prolong the problem any more and must talk to his outfit unconditionally. He, however, stuck to tripartite talks as the only way to resolve the issue. Bhat said: ‘‘Forget unilateral, bilateral or tripartite talks — that’s not the issue. Let all parties of Jammu and Kashmir, including those in Azad Kashmir, come forward. ‘‘Let National Conference and Congress take the lead and ask people of J-K what they want. We will accept the majority decision — accession with India or Pakistan or Independence.’’ According to him, representatives from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka could supervise a referendum. ‘‘We discussed the talks offer threadbare and then responded accordingly. An invitation to the crowd is political gimmickry. Tomorrow, they (India) will tell the world that we invited 40 groups and their leaders; all agreed except Hurriyat,’’ Bhat said. According to the Hurriyat chairman, Shabir Shah should realise that India has always ‘‘exploited’’ Kashmir’s leaders for its benefit. ‘‘When India found Sheikh (late Sheikh Abdullah) sahib was no longer useful, Bakshi was patronised, then Sadiq and Mir Qasim. ‘‘There is a trail of such leaders whom India exploited politically for its own means. Shabir Shah cannot bring about a solution to the problem.’’ On ceasefire extension, a charged Bhat said unless Mujahideen wants there can be no ceasefire. On the proposed Hurriyat visit to Pakistan, the Hurriyat chairman said he had met R.K. Mishra twice in Delhi.‘ ‘I told him (Mishra) ask your government to permit us to go. He agreed the proposal was a noble one. ‘‘Two days after my meeting with Mishra, the Prime Minister of India said on record the ministry concerned is looking into it and there will be no delay in issuing passports. But that never happened.’’ Jamat-e-Islami Amir G.M. Bhat said the Army’s stand that Kashmir is a political issue needs to be appreciated. ‘‘The uncertainty on a solution to the Kashmir problem needs to end. It’s in everybody’s interest, including India’s,’’ he said. Moderate Hurriyat leader Umar Farooq took a dig at the Centre for pursuing a dubious path. ‘‘During the last few days, seven custody deaths have occurred. We will never accept any such solution that envisages further division of Kashmir. We are for unification of the broken families,’’ he said. Ved Bhasin, noted journalist and owner of The Kashmir Times, said only Kashmiris were the principal party to the dispute and India and Pakistan were secondary. He stressed the Kashmir issue was political and needs to be addressed through a sincere initiative. Noted separatist Mahammad Azam Inqilabi, who heads the Hurriyat-type separatist conglomerate, Qoomi Mushawarati Council, said they were still debating if Kashmir is a political or a religious issue. According to Inqilabi, militants should repose their trust in the separatist leadership and urged the need for a thinktank to shape a good response to the Centre’s overtures.


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