Geelani Now Says He’s Ready To Talk17 October 2011
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Days after refusing to meet the Centre’s three-member panel of interlocutors on Kashmir and criticising their report, the separatists appear to be having second thoughts. In a clear deviation from the past, the hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Geelani has indicated it is not averse to talks with the Centre. Geelani said he has not been approached for talks as yet. “We have not received any invitation for dialogue even through back channels,” spokesperson Ayaz Akbar told HT. Akbar’s statement, however, contradicts the words of Dilip Padgaonkar, one of the interlocutors. On October 12, after submitting the report, Padgaonkar had told reporters in New Delhi although the document would have been far more worthwhile if the separatists had joined the consultations, “by not putting forth their view point they (the separatists) missed the bus.” Akbar added that the decision to join in the talks would be collective. “Geelani Sahib has decided that in case he is approached, he will discuss it with the members of the Hurriyat executive council and decide accordingly,” he said. Geelani had always stayed away from direct talks with the Centre and maintained that the Kashmir issue has to be recognised as a “dispute” before any meaningful talks can be held. His turnaround came after a local daily claimed New Delhi is to put in “serious efforts” to rope in Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Geelani, for talks. The Centre, the report said, plans to hold deliberations with Kashmiri leaders in 2012 and 2013 and may offer “unconditional dialogue” to separatists at the level of the home minister or the prime minister. The talks are seen as “the next step’’ after the interlocutors’ report. The team was appointed to hold deliberations with various shades of opinion in Kashmir after 2010 summer unrest. Though none of the separatists - moderates or the hardliners - had interacted with the team, the report incorporated the “known separatist stand”.