July 2004 News

Talks Have Run Into Problems, Says Mufti

26 July 2004
The Asian Age

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Monday admitted that the Centre-Hurriyat dialogue had run into problems. But it was a temporary phase and the dialogue was bound to resume, he said. His admission came while talking to reporters after separate meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union home minister Shivraj Patil. After two rounds of talks between the separatist Hurriyat Conference and the then deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, the dialogue process has not resumed after the Manmohan Singh government took over. Recently, the home ministry indicated it would like the third round to take place next month, but the Hurriyat response to the 'offer' has been ambiguous. Internal problems in the Hurriyat and differences with the Centre over the level at which the talks should be held are being counted among the obstacles. 'There is definitely some delay in the talks,' Mr Sayeed said. But he added that they would resume in the near future. Asked if the talks should be broadened to include more separatist organisations, he said there was no other way to bringing about peace. Sooner or later, those opposed to dialogue will realise this, he said. Questioned on whether militant incidents and infiltration from across the Line of Control had gone up or come down, he refused to get into details. 'All I can say is that infiltration is continuing,' he said. Asked about recent attacks against deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma, Mr Sayeed said violent incidents continued in the state but failed to affect normalcy. There was strong yearning for peace among the people, he said. Mr Sayeed and his team discussed the state's financial requirements from the Centre. Quicker execution of the highway and rail project in the state was discussed at the meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh. The state also wants Centre's help in funding its electricity deficit and the extra burden of merging government employees' basic pay with the dearness allowance.


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