June 2002 News

Political process in Kashmir re-activated

9 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: The political process in Jammu and Kashmir has been reactivated with the Prime Ministerís special emissary Ram Jethmalani holding talks with Hurriyat and other separatist leaders to evolve a package that would enable various seccessionist groups to participate in the State Assembly elections. Mr Jethmalani airdashed here on Friday on the directive of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and discussed with Hurriyat chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Shah and other separatist leaders various issues concerning the political process in the State. While the Hurriyat leaderís, including Mirwaiz Omer Farooq, did not show any inclination to participate in the elections, some groups were keen to join the electoral process provided the Centre announced a political package for the State. But there was a general consensus that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through peaceful means and violence should come to an end sources said. The former Law Minister, who was accompanied by Mr Ashok Bhan, Supreme Court advocate, also met Mr Azam Inquilabi, Mr Yakub Vakil, Mr Abdul Salam Rather and more than 40 other separatist leaders to ascertain their views on the current situation in the State. Mr Jethmalaniís visit to the Valley coincided with the secret mission of Mr A S Daulat, adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir, to the State where he met Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and other political leaders. He is reportedly in touch with some militant groups also. Before leaving for Srinagar, Mr Jethmalani met Mr Vajpayee and Home Minister L K Advani, besides other leaders. The sources said there was a general feeling at the meetings with the separatist leaders that the current political situation should be resolved through peaceful means. Many groups favoured initiation of a political dialogue with the Centre to end bloodshed in the State. Mr Jethmalaniís visit came close on the heels of Mr Vajpayeeís trip to Jammu and Kashmir last month during which he announced an economic package for the State and expressed his readiness to hold talks with Hurriyat and other separatist leaders. Mr Jethmalani also visited the residence of assassinated Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone and offered condolences. He met a delegation of lawyers, which sought his legal opinion on the release of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik, who was arrested last month, the sources said. Mr Ashok Bhan, involved in track II diplomacy for some years, made a strong plea to the leaders to actively join the political process. ''If violence and terrorism have to end, democracy and pluralism have to be genuinely made functional, he said and added that the political process should also involve all groups. (UNI)


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