Interlocutors Send Formal Talks Invite To Separatists11 February 2011
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Centre’s interlocutors on Kashmir have claimed to have formally invited separatist leaders - of both factions of the Hurriyat Conference and JKLF chief Yasin Malik - for talks. “Yes, we have sent formal letters to the separatist leaders,” Dileep Padgaonkar, head of the three-member team of interlocutors, told The Indian Express. The letters, Padgaonkar added, also urges the separatist leaders to send the documents outlining their agendas till the time they decide on the invitation for talks. “We know they will need time to respond to our invitation. Meanwhile, they can send their public documents,” he said. Separatists, however, denied having received any such letter. “We will respond when we receive the letter, which we have not,” Shabir Shah, a top leader of the moderate Hurriyat faction, said. The hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani rejected any prospect of engaging with the interlocutors. Its spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the interlocutors were like “tourists” with little mandate to change things in Kashmir. “We will not send our public documents to them. It is no use doing that,” Akber said. Referring to the interlocutors’ recent statement that a majority of people in the valley did not want independence, he said that “this dispelled any doubt as to the interlocutors’ objective in the state”. “It is like saying there is no conflict in Kashmir. Then what is it they are here to resolve?” Akbar asked. At a press conference during their last visit to the state, the interlocutors had said that only a small but vocal section of opinion “harped on UN resolutions, plebiscite and self-determination resulting in independence for the state as it existed before 1947”. Both factions of the Hurriyat want the Centre to respond to their preliminary conditions before they can engage in a dialogue. Geelani has put out five proposals, which include withdrawal of security forces from the state as well as a declaration from New Delhi that Kashmir is a dispute. Moderate Hurriyat faction chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq has demanded release of prisoners, phased withdrawal of security forces and an end to human rights violations before talks can be held.