March 2002 News

Jittery APHC leaders Pak Envoy’s dinner guests

27 March 2002
The Statesman

NEW DELHI/JAMMU: With the arrest of JKLF leader Mr Yasin Malik, the apprehension among other Hurriyat Conference leaders is that they too might be framed under various charges by the state machinery before the Assembly elections. They feel that by suppressing the voice of resistance, the Farooq Abdullah administration is trying to clear the hurdles in its way. The Hurriyat leaders were present in nearly full strength at the Pakistan High Commission this evening, of course minus Mr Yasin Malik. They were part of the guest list to celebrate the Pakistan Day. Not even a week has passed since the Hurriyat leaders, who are camping in the capital, left for the Valley but the invitation from the Pakistan High Commissioner gave them another opportunity and taking full advantage of the situation, they got together to discuss the latest development in Kashmir. Political analysts in Kashmir, meanwhile, said the APHC, which is being persuaded by New Delhi to participate in the forthcoming Assembly elections, may toughen its stand after the recent arrest of Mr Malik. Much significance is being attached to the arrest as it came at a time when Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee announced that he is going to visit Kashmir along with his defence and home minister, exploring the possibility of various separatist and militant groups participating in the forthcoming Assembly polls. The Hurriyat will be on the offensive now, said political pundits. They believe the arrest of Mr Malik under the Poto following the revelations made by the arrested duo on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will sabotage the peace process in Kashmir in a big way. Sources told The Statesman that the Hurriyat Conference had last week said that they were going to make a big announcement this week. It may have been an appeal to the Prime Minister and various militant groups operating in the state to declare unilateral ceasefire. However, with the dramatic turn of events early this week, this announcement, which possibly could have changed the political dimensions in the Valley, has been put on the back-burner. Mr Malik’s arrest has also been criticised by the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Party chief Mr Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who described the event as a deep rooted conspiracy ahead of the Assembly polls. He said attempts are being made to sabotage the very purpose of the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to the state. “From the sequence of developments under which Mr Malik has been arrested and booked under the draconian Poto, it appears that there is a conspiracy to silence the voice of the separatists as they join the electoral process,” his statement read. Strike disrupts life: Life was disrupted in Kashmir today following the strike called by the JKLF to protest against the arrest of its chairman, Mohd Yasin Malik, adds PTI from Srinagar. The bandh was peaceful barring a clash between the police and JKLF supporters at Maisuma, Srinagar. Shops and business establishments remained closed in Srinagar and other major towns. Transport movement was skeletal in some areas, including Srinagar. Sources said government offices and government undertakings were also affected, while educational institutions, banks and courts remained closed.


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