Separatist groups need to fight elections: Shabir
1 July 2001
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: PROMINENT SEPARATIST leader and chief of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Shabir Ahmad Shah, has said that participation in elections has become all the more necessary for the "pro-freedom" camp to determine the character of real leadership in Jammu and Kashmir. Talking to the Hindustan Times Shah resented that divergent voices were pouring out from the "pro-freedom" camp and people at random were claiming to be the leaders of the movement". "I think it is now inevitable for us to go through electoral process to resolve the issue", he said. Separatist camp in the state is a motley mix of dozens of parties and personalities. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference, the main separatist platform, has itself 23 constituent parties. There are over a dozen other groups, which function outside the Hurriyat. This is in addition to 15 militant groups, operating under the banner of United Jihad Council. All these groups have vehemently been opposing elections saying there were no alternative to the right of self-determination. Even as the DFP chief, who for his prolonged incarceration is known to his supporters as Kashmir's Nelson Mandela, described participation in elections as unfortunate stating examples of leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela who never needed peoples" mandate to prove their credentials. "But for us it has become unavoidable as leaders have emerged in every locality," Shah said.