Ansari steps down as Hurriyat chairman
6 July 2004
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India
Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference chairman Moulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari on Wednesday stepped down from the post of chairman to continue efforts of unity among the separatist leaders and appointed founder chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umer Farooq as interim chairman of the amalgam. Ansari, who had offered to step down on may 21, on Wednesday asked Mirwaiz to restart unity efforts and establish contact with all executive council members to restore the constitutional shape of the body, Hurriyat said in a statement issued after a meeting which lasted just over an hour. The amalgam said fresh elections for the post of chairman would be held once the unity process was completed. Emphasising the importance of unity among the separatist ranks, the Hurriyat said the Jammu and Kashmir issue could be resolved only through a 'meaningful and purposeful dialogue process'. In this connection, Hurriyat will continue the process of talks with governments of India and Pakistan to find an 'amicable and acceptable solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue in the larger interests of peace and security of the region', the statement said. However, the amalgam did not make any mention of the third round of talks with the Centre, which was supposed to be the main agenda of Wednesday's meeting. Hurriyat leaders including former chairman Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone, Ansari and Mirwaiz refused to take questions from waiting mediapersons. Describing the split in the separatist amalgam as 'unfortunate', the Hurriyat said it had emerged as the 'symbol of collective political amalgam of the people of Kashmir'. 'However, unfortunately this united platform was divided at the crucial and decisive phase of the movement', it said adding that efforts for reunification had been started.