Separatist Leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Urges 'people Of India' To Vote Wisely

5 May 2014
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: Though they are boycotting polls in the state, moderates in the Hurriyat Conference are keenly watching the general elections in the hope that the new dispensation that takes over will initiate fresh initiatives on Kashmir. Recently, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq wrote an open letter 'to the people of India', urging them to vote wisely as 'you can influence and support your political leaders to do what is both possible and necessary for peace'. The Mirwaiz also said that the Hurriyat is open to talks with the new government in case it displayed seriousness on resolving the Kashmir dispute. Showing a new assertiveness, the moderates didn't buckle down when hardline Hurriyat Conference faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in a veiled reference, accused them of trying to initiate a dialogue with Narendra Modi. A combative Mirwaiz accused Geelani of creating an atmosphere of suspicion against the moderates, and underlined that it was necessary that the Hurriyat continue its engagement with New Delhi. 'To find a solution to the Kashmir dispute, there will be many occasions when we have to enter into negotiations either with India or Pakistan. Whenever we talk, we talk openly,' said Farooq. In the past too, the moderates have held negotiations with both the NDA and UPA, and praised the initiatives taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Baramullah and Ladakh are the only seats left in Jammu and Kashmir left to vote, and polling will be held on May 7. Voting in the other two constituencies in Kashmir hovered around the 26 per cent mark. Meanwhile, the Hurriyat moderates are trying to broadbase their reach among the people by organising seminars on human rights violations, reorganising their media unit, becoming more accessible, and raising local issues, especially related to youth and dealing with corruption and misgovernance. They are also planning to establish offices at district level and at major rural centres. 'We have set up a separate legal and human rights wing within the Hurriyat. We are also reaching out to those youth who are in jail,' Hurriyat media advisor Shahid ul Islam said. A new website will give information on their 'freedom struggle'. 'We are taking the help of social networking tools and have already modernised our headquarters at Rajbagh,' Islam said. 'We are also in the process of creating Hurriyat members at mollah and village levels.' Recently, the Hurriyat spoke of drug abuse spreading among youth and raised the issue of local objection to an Army artillery firing range coming up in picturesque Tosamaidain.