May 2004 News

Centre Sends Out Feelers To More J-K Separatists

27 May 2004
The Indian Express

New Delhi: The Centre has earnestly embarked on the path of dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference, with Washington-based Indian bureaucrat Wahajat Habibullah helping to expand the ambit of parleys by talking to other separatist groups. Habibullah, former Secretary (Consumer Affairs) and currently on a sabbatical to the US, is keeping his cards close to his chest about coming back to India and helping promote the Kashmir peace process. However, he is working with various other Kashmiri separatists groups in a bid to make them join the peace process. The Centre has also apparently given a message to the Hurriyat Conference that they have to get their hardliner S.A.S. Geelani on board the process. Meanwhile, the third 'substantive' round of talks between the Centre and the Hurriyat is likely to be held in the first week of July. This was announced by Centre's interlocutor N.N. Vohra after a meeting with Home Minister Shivraj Patil. Vohra said after the meeting that a decision about widening the ambit of parleys with separatist groups would be taken soon. When asked if the scope of the dialogue would be broadened, Vohra said any decision on this count would be taken after he met Patil tomorrow to brief him on the discussions so far. Vohra had met PM Manmohan Singh yesterday and had offered to resign. He had said later that it was for the PM to decide whether he should continue or not. But it seems that the government wants him to continue for the time being.


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