Hurriyat Divided Over Talks With Ram
5 August 2003
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference is divided over the holding of talks with the Ram Jethmalani-led Kashmir Committee even as three senior leaders are camping in Delhi to restart the stalled dialogue with him. Two important constituents of the conglomerate's decision- making executive - the JKLF and Jamaat-e-Islami - are dead against the resumption of talks. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has even described Jethmalani as 'inconsistent' for 'wavering' on the agenda of holding talks on Kashmir. 'When Jethmalani met Hurriyat the first time, he gave the impression that he was talking about Kashmiris' aspirations. His statements in the press said he was referring to autonomy...and at another point, he talked about Hurriyat's participation in Assembly polls,' said Yasin. His deputy and JKLF vice-chairman Bashir Ahmad Bhat shares his view. He said resumption of the dialogue with Jethmalani is 'meaningless because he (Ram) changes his stand at the drop of a hat'. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said 'people are wasting time... Jethmalani's agenda is no secret now. What can one get out of a meeting with a person who persuaded Hurriyat leaders to participate in previous elections.' Sources said Bashir Ahmad Tota of People's League - another constituent of the executive - is also against the dialogue. The sources added that while Tota has rushed to Delhi, the other three leaders - Hurriyat chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Prof Abdul Gani Bhat - have refused to give him audience and ignored him. Most of the 25 parties comprising the conglomerate's general council are also questioning the wisdom of talking to Jethmalani. Sources said senior leaders like Mohammad Azam Inqilibi, Fazal Haq Qureshi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and others are pressuring the Hurriyat top brass to restructure and expand the executive so that the views of the general council and working committee are also counted while taking final decisions. 'The three executives - Ansari, Prof Bhat and Mirwaiz Umer - have hijacked the Hurriyat. They did not bother to take the views of the general council on the issue of talks with Ram (Jethmalani). They have violated the Hurriyat constitution,' said a senior leader. 'Does the Jethmalani-led Kashmir Committee have any backing from the NDA Government? A dialogue with him is meaningless and a waste of time. I don't think our leadership has kept its ear to the ground,' said a JKLF leader.