June 2002 News

Ex-militant puts faith in ballot box, floats party

24 June 2002
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Following in the footsteps of Shabir Shah, Hashim Qureshi, and earlier Kuka Parrey, another ex-ultra has now formed a party. Imran Rahi, founder deputy chief of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, is the latest to ‘‘realise’’ the Kashmir issue can only be resolved through peaceful means. And that ‘‘free and fair polls is only the first step, not a solution in itself.’’ With polls due in October, Rahi has formed the J-K People’s Party and plans to contest half of the 86 seats. ‘‘Militancy only managed to highlight the problem. To solve it, dialogue is required,’’ he said. More Kashmiris are realising militancy is not the solution. ‘‘Militants do not find support among people anymore. There are 20,000-25,000 ex-militants who favour peaceful means.’’ Rahi took to militancy in his early 20s and operated in the Valley between 1988 and 1992. ‘‘I even went for training across the border twice,’’ he said. He was arrested in Sopore in 1992, and was in jail till 1995. Militancy, he said, has become an occupation. ‘‘There’s no conviction any longer. People take up the gun only for money,’’ he said. Rahi claimed ex-militants like him understood the importance of peace. ‘‘The problems of Kashmiris have increased because of militancy. And politicians have sabotaged the peace process. In the coming polls, the government will have to restore people’s faith in democracy that was shaken after the farcical polls in 1987,’’ he said. Rahi said he was trying to forge an alliance with other ex-militants such as Qureshi and Shabir Shah for the polls. ‘‘Together we can give a good fight to the NC,” he said.


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