November 2002 News

Jethmalani redefines Azadi for Kashmir, Shah listens

22 November 2002
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The Kashmir Committee today held its third round of talks with separatist groups and termed the movement for independence in Kashmir an irrelevant concept. It asked the government and the separatists to shun extreme positions to solve the problem. ‘‘Who has snatched your azadi (freedom)? You need azadi from injustice and oppression. The concept of independence has become obsolete and irrelevant today. Basically, we have to understand who are they (separatists) fighting against,’’ Kashmir Committee convener Ram Jethmalani said before a meeting with Democratic Freedom Party president Shabir Ahmad Shah. The meeting remained inconclusive even as Shah said they are holding another round of talks tomorrow and would issue a joint statement. Jethmalani and other committee members later attended an Iftar party organised by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq at his Nageen residence. All Hurriyat Conference members except JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik attended the party. Malik, who had called Jethmalani a man of double standards after his release on parole, instead addressed a huge gathering at Kulgam town after Friday prayers. He asked the people to continue their struggle for freedom. ‘‘They (Kashmir Committee) are not negotiators. They are coming here to sell the Indian point of view. This is not acceptable to us,’’ he said. ‘‘Eight months ago, Ram Jethmalani told me that the only solution to the Kashmir dispute was independence. What has happened during these months that he changed his opinion?’’ Asked about Malik’s refusal to talk, Jethmalani said: ‘‘His imprisonment has had an effect on his thinking. He will come to terms when he sees the ground reality.’’ He said those who are not accepting reality are not doing good and he will continue to argue with them to solve the problem. Malik has been against talks with Jethmalani even though Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat assured him that the Kashmir Committee will be asked to explain its stand on the dispute before fresh talks. Bhat told The Indian Express that they are continuing with the talks because a majority — six executive members of the Hurriyat — have supported the move.


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