Hurriyat rules out talks with Vohra
24 April 2003
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: The separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference has ruled out a dialogue with the central government's Kashmir emissary NN Vohra, and said it will talk with New Delhi only at the 'highest level'. At a news conference at the Hurriyat's Rajbagh headquarters on Thursday, JKLF chief Yasin Malik laid down three essentials for opening negotiations. One, they should be unconditional; two, the Indian leadership should be represented at the highest level; and three, Kashmiris should be represented only by those who consider the state disputed. A dialogue of the kind Vohra was holding was pointless, Malik said - the emissary was talking only with India's 'own people'. Malik launched an attack on New Delhi for its alleged double standards on addressing problems of separatism. 'Three Indian prime ministers - Deve Gowda, IK Gujral and Vajpayee - held talks with leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim in foreign countries,' he said. 'And no mainstream politician of Nagaland was involved in those talks. Why do they adopt a different standard for Kashmir? Kashmir is a far more serious issue with international implications, while Nagaland is India's domestic problem.' Malik said the Hurriyat position on dialogue had been accepted by the ruling People's Democratic Party and main opposition National Conference. 'Mufti Sayeed has been pleading the same thing (as the Hurriyat) for the past three years,' Malik said. And NC chief Omar Abdullah had reportedly told Vohra that a dialogue should be held with the separatists, he added. Omar Abdullah on Thursday regretted the Hurriyat decision not to speak to Vohra. He also regretted that there was 'no serious' move from the government to reach out to separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. The Hurriyat decision now raises questions about the 'meaningfulness' of Centre's initiative. At his press conference in Srinagar on Saturday, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered talks to both the Hurriyat and other separatists. On the Hurriyat demand for a Naga-style dialogue, the PM said the Hurriyat's position was higher than that of the Naga rebels. 'Why are they asking for a dialogue on the pattern of the Nagas?' Meanwhile, Vohra met leaders of the Kashmir Resolution Movement, an organisation of separatists who took part in the last assembly elections. After the meeting, KRM leaders called for confidence-building measures like release of prisoners and recall of troops.