April 2002 News

Dulat in J&K to woo separatists

26 April 2002
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Former RAW chief and Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Prime Minister's Office A.S. Dulat is in the Valley on an important mission - to persuade separatist leaders to participate in the imminent assembly elections. He has been camping in Srinagar for the past three days, meeting several political leaders and former militant commanders. Sources said Dulat has had one-on-one meetings with two members of the All Party Hurriyat Conference's executive committee on Thursday. He is also reported to have met a former commander of a prominent militant group, who is now in a mainstream political party. A senior leader of the Kashmir Liberation Council also met the former RAW chief. His meetings with separatist leaders and militant commanders assume great significance in view of the fact that opinions are divided over the issue of elections among the separatists. Hurriyat Conference, the main separatist political alliance, is diametrically divided over the issue. A section, headed by former Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and senior leader Abdul Gani Lone appear flexible on the polls. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq recently said that Hurriyat, which is opposed to the elections and had been campaigning for boycott, was willing to reconsider the issue and could take part in the coming assembly polls if New Delhi came with a fresh initiative on Kashmir. However, Syed Ali Gilani, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Mohammad Yasin Malik still favour boycotting the elections. Sources said Dulat has specially been deputed by the Prime Minister to explore the possibilities of the participation of Hurriyat and other separatist leaders and former commanders in the assembly elections. The Prime Minister too is visiting the state before the assembly elections. He has said he will meet parties and leaders of all hues during his visit to persuade them to participate in the elections. Dulat's exercise is being seen as paving way for Vajpayee's mission. Dulat, who is known for his contacts with separatist leaders in the Valley, is expected to bag the gubernatorial post in the state.


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