June 2002 News

Kashmir peace process picks up

20 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: The Kashmir peace process is getting accelerated with several separatist leaders and representatives of splinter secessionist groups airdashing here for parleys with interlocutors of the Central Government. Senior Hurriyat leader Maulana Abbas Ansari, Freedom Party chief Shabir Ahmed Shah and leaders of smaller separatist groups interacted with various prominent personalities, human rights activists and politicians and exchanged views on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Maulana Abbas left for Srinagar after staying here for two days and is reported to have met eminent personalities. No further details, however, were available about his secret visit to the capital. The Hurriyat Conference’s latest proposal for triangular talks involving Islamabad and New Delhi also figured during the discussions. The proposal of such talks was mooted by Hurriyat chairman Prof Bhat yesterday. Hurriyat functionaries are expecting a positive response from the Government on this issue. Former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani and advisor to the Prime Minister on Kashmir A S Dulat are playing an important role in the peace process and the two are involved in negotiations with a number of separatist entities to pursuade them to participate in the coming assembly elections. Meanwhile, a number of Kashmiri academicians, politicians and civil liberty activists were invited by the US embassy for interaction on the Kashmir issue. Among others, it was attended by Muzzafar Shah of the Awami National Conference, Riyaz Punjabi, chairman of the Autonomy Committee and Prof Amitab Matto from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Meanwhile, the BJP today rejected the separatist Hurriyat Conference’s offer to talk to New Delhi first and later go to Pakistan saying no group would be allowed to talk to Islamabad and the conglomerate can have a dialogue with the Centre within the constitutional framework. ''We are not against any Indo-Pak dialogue on the Kashmir issue but we would not allow any individual or group to hold a dialogue with them,'' party spokesman Sunil Shastri told reporters here. ''The Hurriyat is welcome to talk to us within the framework of the Indian constitution,'' Shastri said. Asked whether the party favoured greater autonomy to Kashmir, he said, ''Jammu and Kashmir already enjoys special status under Article 370. It has a separate constitution and a separate flag.'' Shifting from ''tripartite'' to another synonymous word ''triangular'', Hurriyat Conference Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said in Srinagar yesterday that the amalgam was ready to talk to New Delhi first and later go to Pakistan.


Return to the Archives 2002 Index Page

Return to Home Page