Separatist Groups Wait For LoC To Open To Aid Quake Victims
29 October 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: As India and Pakistan discuss the opening of Line of Control for the movement of quake-affected people, Kashmirs separatist groups are preparing to cross over with the volunteers.They include chairman of hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had recently refused to travel to Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf. The moderate Hurriyat headed by Mirwaz Umar Farooq is also going. The conglomerate has decided it will take relief material to Muzaffarabad after Eid. 'We urge India and Pakistan to throw open the LoC so that we can take relief to our affected brethren in the other part of Kashmir,' said Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. Geelani on the other hand, will lead a 16-member team to Muzaffarabad and has already applied for the papers. This is significant as the last time when Pakistan invited separatist leaders, Geelani's Hurriyat had been the sole voice of dissent. The reason, for not going, he said, was that Pakistan had compromised its basic stand on Kashmir. Now if Geelani goes, it is seen as fraught with possibilities. He has been the harshest critic of the Indo-Pak dialogue over J-K and working overtime to undermine its importance. So, it is unlikely that his visit would remain untouched by politics. More so in view of the activities in Pakistan of Yaseen Malik, the Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, who is on a visit to the country to provide relief to the quake-victims. Another major separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah has similar plans. 'Yes, if some points on the Line of Control are thrown open, I will certainly go to aid the quake-affected people in Muzaffarabad,' Shah told Indian Express. 'There is no reason to play politics at this time,' he added. Already, a group of volunteers led by Nayeem Ahmad Khan, a constituent party of Mirwaiz Hurriyat, was stopped at Pattan while on their way to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on October 24. Javed Ahmad Mir, a former JKLF vice president has appealed to skilled people in J&K to go to Muzaffarabad if the road is opened. 'Doctors, engineers and other skilled persons should be allowed to visit Pakistani Kashmir. They would help in the rebuilding effort,' he said. There are also some former militant commanders too waiting to go across. Zafar Abdul Fateh, a former divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, said, he was eager to cross the LoC along with hundreds of volunteers. 'We have a huge human resource that is familiar with the tracks and the terrain. We will help our brethren in rebuilding their homes,' he said at a press conference in Srinagar.