'Manmohan never met Yasin Malik as PM'
2 February 2006
New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday said it is possible that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet JKLF chief Yasin Malik and other Kashmiri leaders in the future. 'It is possible that the Prime Minister will meet Malik and other leaders whom he has not yet met as the Prime Minister in the future,' Prime Minister's Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru said here. He was clarifying the response of the Prime Minister to a question at the national press conference on Wednesday as to his meetings with various leaders from Kashmir. The Prime Minister had mentioned various names including that of Yasin Malik. 'This reference is to his meetings with various representatives of groups in Kashmir including Malik before he became the Prime Minister,' Mr. Baru said, adding 'the Prime Minister has had several opportunities to meet them when he was the leader of the opposition.' 'In his present capacity as Prime Minister, he has not yet met Malik while he has met other leaders,' he said. [PTI reported that the Prime Minister in his press conference of February 1 said that after coming to office he had interacted Sajjad Lone, Yasin Malik and other separatist Kashmiri leaders. UNI reported the Prime Minister as saying he had talked to Hurriyat leaders and Sajjad Lone and Yasin Malik too.] I met him when he was in the Opposition, says Malik Shujaat Bukhari reports from Srinagar: Yasin Malik on Thursday clarified that he had met Manmohan Singh twice when the latter was in the Opposition. Visibly upset over reports that he had met the Prime Minister before leaving on a month long visit to the United States recently, Mr. Malik told a news conference in Srinagar that he had only met Dr. Singh in March 2001 at the residence of columnist Prem Shankar Jha. '(Former) Congress leader Najma Heptullah was also present in the luncheon meeting which lasted for about four hours,' he said. The second meeting, according to Mr. Malik, took place at the residence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in March 2003. 'On both these occasions Dr. Singh was in opposition,' said the JKLF chief adding that he had never met him as Prime Minister. When his attention was drawn to the Prime Minister's statement at the news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday in which he said 'I had talks with the Hurriyat. I am prepared to talk to them again. I had also met Sajjad Lone and Mohammad Yasin Malik,' the JKLF leader avoided a direct reply. 'I am not aware of his (Prime Minister) intention and cannot say why he said so,' said Mr. Malik. 'Some news agencies have reported the government is preparing to invite me and some have said I met him. I do not know what is true.' To a question, he said when the Government of India initiated a dialogue with the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, the emissary also met him at that time. 'No invitation yet' Mr. Malik reiterated that the JKLF was not averse to a dialogue. But he said it had not received any invitation from the Centre. 'When it comes, our executive will discuss it.' He accused those associated with Track-11 in Delhi of unleashing campaign against the separatists when 'we do not meet them.' 'Delhi has become a trade centre as far as the dialogue is concerned.' Mr. Malik said that the JKLF supports the peace process and 'we want that both India and Pakistan should take into confidence the people of Jammu and Kashmir while finding a solution to the problem.'