September 2002 News

Cracks surface in Hurriyat Conference

1 September 2002
The Statesman

New Delhi: Differences within the Hurriyat Conference have come to the fore. The All Party Hurriyat Conference met today to discuss the decision by some members of the People’s Conference, a constituent of the APHC, to contest the Assembly elections as Independents defying the Hurriyat whip. But the council has deferred its decision till tomorrow. The People’s Conference is represented in the APHC by Mr Bilal Lone, elder son of slain PC leader Abdul Gani Lone. He was not present at today’s meeting. A section of the APHC executive members feel Mr Bilal Lone, PC chief, and Mr Sajjad Lone had a hand in the decision of some party members to contest the poll. A decision is likely to be taken on whether disciplinary action should be taken against them. After day-long discussions in Srinagar, Hurriyat chairman Mr Abdul Gani Bhat said: “The Hurriyat’s executive council will meet tomorrow again and issue a statement in the afternoon.” People Conference supporters gathered outside the Hurriyat headquarters in Srinagar and shouted slogans in favour of the Lone brothers. They warned the conglomerate against expelling them from the council. Yesterday, a statement attributed to jailed People’s Conference leader Mr Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar was circulated from the Hurriyat headquarters. The statement said Mr Sajjad Lone and Mr Bilal Lone had been expelled from the party for fielding proxy candidates in the Assembly polls. With fissures in the conglomerate surfacing, a split is being speculated. This is a trying time for the Hurriyat which will face the Kashmir Committee in Delhi next week for the second round of talks. Shabir blames ‘hawks’ : Disillusioned at having failed to meet the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, Democratic Freedom Party chairman Mr Shabir Shah blamed the Centre’s “hawks” for “sabotaging” a “serious effort” to resolve the problem. “We have never been against the democratic process. We are not scared to fight elections. But a change of government is not our motive, we want to resolve the issue.” Jethmalani criticises Advani: Kashmir Committee chairman Mr Ram Jethmalani has termed the Deputy Prime Minister’s attitude towards resolving the Kashmir issue as “discouraging”. Jaitley: The Centre’s interlocutor on devolution of powers to the Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Arun Jaitley, today said his brief did not relate to elections and that he would continue talks with all parties after the polls were over. “The subject matter of my discussions is not election related or participation of any group therein,” he said, speaking for the first time since his appointment as interlocutor. “After I finish my discussions with the state, I’ll invite other parties and groups for talks.”


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