Separatists call shutdown on PM's visit to Kashmir

9 October 2008
The Hindustan Times
Not Sepcified

Srinagar: The separatist Hurriyat Conference Thursday called for a shutdown in the Kashmir Valley Saturday to coincide with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state. After a meeting of the joint co-ordination committee of the Hurriyat groups in the old city Rajouri Kadal area in Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat faction, called upon the people to stage peaceful protests throughout the valley after Friday prayers and observe a complete shutdown Saturday. The prime minister is visiting Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, where he will flag off the first intra-Kashmir Valley train Saturday, a day after he is to inaugurate the first phase of the the 900-MW hydel project on the Chenab river in Jammu. A two-day curfew was imposed in the valley to foil the separatist-called Monday sit-in in Lal Chowk apparently aimed at to internationalise the Kashmir issue. 'The Kashmir problem is neither of laying railway links, nor providing economic packages or employment. It is the question of political aspirations of the people here and a referendum to this effect was seen when tens of thousands of Kashmiris joined the Eidgah march in the city Aug 22,' the Mirwaiz told reporters. The meeting, the Hurriyat chairman said, was held 'in the aftermath of the curfew imposed by the government to prevent our peaceful protest march to Lal Chowk Monday', the Mirwaiz told reporters. “The Indian government used curfew and detentions to suppress the expression of our peaceful voice Oct 6 when we proposed the march to Lal Chowk. We have not called off the march and an appropriate date for the same would be announced for which the people must remain in readiness.' “The prime minister told the United Nations General Assembly that steps were being taken to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. There is a fundamental flaw in such an approach as it ignores the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir by excluding them from such parleys,' he said. “Bilateral arrangements and agreements either between India and Pakistan or between New Delhi and Srinagar have not worked in the past nor would they in the future. It is a dispute in whose resolution India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir must be involved,' he said.