April 2002 News

PMO man tries to swing it: Golf, and Kashmir talks too

28 April 2002
The Indian Express
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: The presence of the PMO’s in-charge of Kashmir affairs, A S Dullat, in the Valley when the differences in the Hurriyat over a solution to the Kashmir dispute are boiling over, is being seen as part of the Centre’s new initiative. Thought the Hurriyat has denied any meeting with Dullat, last Thursday Dullat had boarded the same Jet Airways flight for Srinagar which was carrying former Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and executive Moulana Abbas Ansari. According to sources, the three were the only passengers in the executive class. ‘‘Dullat’s family members who were accompanying him were in the economy class,’’ said the sources. Farooq was returning home after attending the Dubai conference which has generated a lot of heat for advocating an end to militancy and stressing on political and peaceful means to resolve the Kashmir problem. The Mirwaiz denied that during the hour-long flight there was any interaction with Dullat. ‘‘We were in the same class but I did not speak to him at all,’’ he said. But his Hurriyat colleague Moulana Abbas Ansari had a different version: ‘‘We did not discuss politics with him. I didn’t even know him. In fact, Mirwaiz introduced me to him,’’ he said. ‘‘Dullat replied that he knew me and we just exchanged the customary pleasantries.’’ Soon after landing in Srinagar with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Dullat, sources said, met some representatives of the mainstream political parties and former separatist leaders besides spending hours on the greens. State government officials say they do not know whether the trip is official or personal. ‘‘The Centre did not tell me. I came to know about Mr Dullat’s visit through newspapers. I have had no other information about his schedule,’’ said Divisional Commissioner Parvez Dewan. Dullat is credited with a pivotal role in ‘managing’ several leaders in the separatist camp who are now showing their willingness to participate in the elections. These leaders are feeling encouraged by the right-wing Jamat-e-Islami’s decision not to oppose the assembly elections. Jamat chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, in fact, distance himself from his party’s representative in the Hurriyat, hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, after he called for continuing of Jehad in the Valley. This has earned him open and vociferous support from the PoK-based United Jehad Council (UJC), which has announced that he would be their ‘‘sole supreme leader’’. Admitting serious differences within the Hurriyat, its chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, today said if any Hurriyat leader wants to participate in the elections, he should first declare that he is an Indian and has nothing to do with the freedom movement. ‘‘There is no threat to the Hurriyat’s integrity. No leader will be allowed to participate in the elections in the name of freedom,’’ he said. ‘‘There shouldn’t be any doublespeak or double standards.’’ Speaking at a seminar on poet and philosopher Dr Mohammad Iqbal, organised by Geelani at the Hurriyat headquarters at Rajbagh today, Bhat said: ‘‘None of us can, not to say will, participate in elections. That is betrayal of the blood of people. I am not going to punish him — history will punish him and God will punish him.’’ Turning to Moulvi Abbas Ansari, who was on that flight with Dullat, Bhat asked whether his stand was different. ‘‘Time will prove it,’’ said Ansari. Significantly, Ansari limited his speech to religion and did not talk about the latest developments. Geelani confined most of his presidential address to Iqbal’s philosophy and his message to Muslims. He, however, accused the media of misinterpreting his remarks on Jehad. ‘‘Jehad means struggle. It’s not only taking to the gun. The people who are opinon- makers are misrepresenting it to please their Delhi bosses,’’ he said. The seminar was not attended by any leader of the Jamaat though Geelani’s invitation had been accepted by them. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also did not participate though his statement was read out.


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