Kashmir hardliners refuse talks
20 May 2006
London: The hardline faction of the main separatist group in Indian- administered Kashmir says it will not participate in a conference called by the government. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, hardline leader of the Hurriyat Conference, said India was insincere about a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Parties both pro and anti-India have been invited to the conference convened by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The summit is to be held in Srinagar on 24 and 25 May. Mr Geelani received a formal invitation to the round-table conference on Saturday morning. Speaking at a news conference in the state's summer capital, Srinagar, Mr Geelani said, the roundtable conference was 'only a ploy to give legitimacy to Indian rule in Kashmir and to make the Line of Control into a permanent border'. 'Lure of power' He also rejected the proposal of self- governance as a possible solution to the Kashmir problem and said the issue is about sovereignty. He alleged that the Indian government is trying to bring Kashmiri separatist leaders into electoral politics with the lure of power. Refusing to enter into a dialogue with the government, he said 'there is no point in talking as long as India says Kashmir is its inseparable part' and laws such as the Disturbed Areas Act (which he said virtually suspend a citizen's right to life) are in force in the state. Mr Geelani said a referendum under the UN Security Council resolution would be the best peaceful solution to the problem and emphasised that all three parties - India, Pakistan and Kashmiri representatives - needed to be involved in the process. Mr Geelani has called for a general strike in Kashmir on 24 and 25 May. A militant group, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen has also given a call for a shutdown during this period. The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is still undecided on its participation in the conference.