December 2001 News

Govt, Hurriyat warm up, Pant stays

9 December 2001
Indian Express

Srinagar: IN a stepping of efforts to rope in the Hurriyat Conference in the forthcoming elections in Jammu & Kashmir, New Delhi is learnt to have set up a ‘core group’ to talk things out with its leaders. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K C Pant, as the Government’s key interlocutor, remains at the helm. Actively coordinating with him will be known Kashmir hands A S Dulhat (former RAW chief), who is an officer on special duty in the PMO and K N Singh, senior IB officer, who is posted in J&K. Hurriyat Conference leaders in Srinagar have reacted cautiously to the development. Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat said they had received no new proposal for talks but would give ‘‘due consideration’’ to any fresh initiative for talks. ‘‘We are open to any proposal,’’ he added. Though the Hurriyat claims it had not contacted the Government, there are reports that a dialogue has indeed been started with some of its members. Earlier, Bhat had conceded that they had began informal talks but withdrew after Pant’s appointment as the Government interlocutor. Home Minister L K Advani’s known rigid views against starting talks with Hurriyat too have emerged as stumbling blocks, sources say. Another senior Hurriyat leader, Abdul Ghani Lone — considered to be a moderate in the 23-group conglomerate — too denied that they had received any formal invitation for a dialogue. ‘‘But if the Government has a fresh proposal, we are ready for talks. We will first see the proposal, discuss it in our meeting and then come up with a formal response,’’ he said. Lone insisted that Hurriyat was the only organisation whose constitution calls for a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute through a tripartite dialogue. Lone added: ‘‘Last time we boycotted Pant. That was our decision, but if he has a fresh proposal from the Government of India, we will surely sit and consider it.’’


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