Kashmir Press Roundup: April 2006

2 May 2006

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's initiative for resolving the Kashmir issue by broadening the dialogue process appears to have found popular support among the Kashmiris. With over 70 per cent of Kashmiris participating in the by-elections to four assembly constituencies held on 24 April, the popular sentiment is clearly in favour of a dialogue and political process to resolve the Kashmir issue. While the separatist outfits boycotted the first roundtable conference held in New Delhi, they are reportedly planning to participate in the second roundtable conference to be held in Srinagar in May 2006. This sentiment was reflected in the media reports of Kashmiri news sources during April 2006. A summary of media reports of Kashmiri news sources is given below.


Support For Dialogue
Srinagar Times reported on 9 April that Stephen Hadley, senior advisor to US President, said America would put more pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting Kashmir militants while addressing Strategic Asia Forum. He also added that America would also persuade India to consider the suggestions by Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Srinagar Times reported on 10 April 2006 that Moulavi Umar Farooq of APHC-A stated the leadership of both the parts of Kashmir should forge a consensus and work together for finding a durable resolution of Kashmir issue. He stated that Pakistan wanted to take Kashmiris out of the mess. He added how could others be blamed when our own people were responsible for disorganising Kashmiris. Srinagar news reported on 10 April 2006 that 'Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation' a Delhi based NGO would organise an Intra-Kashmir conference of Indo-Pak leaders in Jammu and Srinagar from 12 -14 April 2006. A 15-member delegation of Pakistan including the former Pakistani foreign secretary Humayun Khan would arrive on 11 April. A two day 'Heart-to-Heart' conference started at Jammu on 12 April 2006, where renowned personalities of Pakistani Kashmir and Indian side participated. The last sitting of this conference was held in Broadway hotel in Srinagar on April 14 2006, reported 'Aftab'. Aftab reported that the political and law and order situation in the valley was satisfactory. With the cooperation and support of the people, the incidents of violence has decreased considerably this year, according to a police officer. According to Roshini, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, while addressing a seminar on 'Peace and Prosperity' organised by 'Friends Club of India' in Jammu, he stated that people's longing for peace and prosperity could only be possible when all right thinking people would come forward to strengthen the peace process. He also added that gun had no role to play where people had earnest desire for peace. He hailed President Musharraf's efforts towards ongoing peace process and also hoped that Pakistani radio and TV would also keep the theme of their programmes on similar lines.

Wadi-Ki-Awaz reported that on the concluding day of the two-day conference of the leaders and intellectuals of both sides of Jammu and Kashmir, three resolutions were adopted. They are: 1) India and Pakistan were urged to broaden and strengthen the ongoing peace process on Kashmir issue. 2) More steps of confidence building be taken after starting withdrawal of troops from Kashmir and 3) Such a resolution of Kashmir issue be found out which could be acceptable to Kashmiri people. Srinagar Times reported that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was likely to visit Pakistan in the month of July or August 2006. Wadi Ki Awaz reported on 16 April 2006 that Gopal Sharma, DGP, Jammu and Kashmir while addressing a press conference claimed that besides recovering arms and ammunition from a mini bus, nine militants of Jaish-e-Mohammed, involved in the series of blasts in Srinagar were also arrested.

Alsafa reported on 16 April 2006 that Abdul Majid Malik, retired Chief Justice of POK, who was also the leader of the POK delegation which was in Jammu and Kashmir in connection with a seminar said during a conversation with a local news agency-KNS that unity between political and militant leadership and withdrawal of troops from Kashmir would pave the way for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Srinagar Times reported on 19 April 2006 that while addressing a press conference at Srinagar, V.K.Duggal, Union Home Secretary stated that although he could not claim that militancy had ended in Kashmir, yet incidents of violence has decreased as compared to last year. However he added that training camps of militants still existed across the border and until cross border terrorism is stopped, the suggestion of withdrawal of troops from Kashmir could not be considered. Roshini reported on 21 April 2006 that M.K.Narayanan, National Security Advisor stated that settlement of Siachin and Sir Creek issues was expected soon and both countries, India and Pakistan has agreed to withdraw troops from Siachin glacier. He added that after holding talks at the government level, agreement would be signed during the next month.

Aftab reported that election campaign for Assembly by-elections in three constituencies of Pattan, Sangrama and Rafiabad came to an end and all polling booths were handed over to security forces. No outward incident had taken place during the entire campaign period. Mobile telephones were an effective medium for conveying messages to the voters and was used in full in all three places. High alert has been sounded in all three constituencies and security has been beefed up in the entire valley. Wadi Ki Awaz reported on 26 April 2006 that the Hurriyat Conference linked its participation in the Second Round Table Conference with a direct meeting with the Prime Minister prior to the Conference. It stated that it was not averse to any dialogue process, however it wished fulfilment of promises made during the first Conference. It also want to know the purpose and agenda of the proposed Round Table Conference.

Uqaab reported that during an interview, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, Foreign Minister of Pakistan stated that Pakistan would not show one sided flexibility with regard to Kashmir issue. He added that Kashmiri leaders supported Pakistan's flexibility, but India is not ready to changes its rigid posture. Uqaab reported on 28 April 2006 that India rejected Pakistani suggestion of withdrawal of troops from Kashmir. India clarified that it was justified to decide where and how to position its troops in Kashmir. On the conclusion of the two-day talks between senior level officials of India and Pakistan, Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary, Foreign Affairs supported the Indian refusal by stating that defensive operations could not be started in the absence of heavy weaponry. However, his Pakistani counterpart, Tariq Hyder, stated that if India agreed, Pakistan was ready for withdrawal of troops. But both the countries agreed not to establish new posts near LOC.

Separatists and Militants Refuse to Relent
Shabir Ahmed Shah, president of JKDFP, while addressing a public meeting at sagam-Kokernag stated that had pro-India political leaders of Kashmir understood Kashmir as an issue pending resolution, they would have disassociated from the ensuing elections. He also added that India should also bring flexibility in its approach with regard to Kashmir issue, like Pakistan, reported Wadi Ki Awaz. The Islamic students League advertised in the local daily Srinagar Times on 9 April 2006, that they would be taking out a procession in connection with 'Eid-I-Millad' from Maisurma in Srinagar. Nida -i-Mashriq reported on 9 April 2006 that the leaders of APHC(G), including Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Masrat Alam Bhat etc, while addressing anti-election rallies in different villages of Sangrama, appealed to the people to boycott the ensuing assemble by-elections. They further added that, though APHC(G) was not against elections, the elections had no relevance when people had to live under the shadow of army rule. The spokesman of Muslim League reacting to the statement of Mehbooba Mufti, President of PDP, stated that after too much of blood shed, Mehbooba Mufti could mention the Kashmir Accord as conditional. The Wadi Ki Awaz, reported that Shabir Ahmed Shah, president of JKDFP, visited Pattan and Sangrama constituencies where he appealed to the people to boycott the coming Assembly by-elections and not to support the anti-movement forces. Srinagar Times reported that Azam Inquilabi, patron of Mahaz-e-Azadi, while addressing a party function in Anantnag alleged that India was unnecessarily prolonging Kashmir issue. He also added that the suggestion of 'demilitarisation'of both parts of state was relevant.

The local Urdu daily 'Roshini' reported on 11 April 2006, that S A S Gilani chairman of APHC-G, stated that state administration was lying with regard to the release of detenues. He also added that, besides arresting innocent citizens under PSA in Baramulla, Anantnag and Srinagar, police offices namely, Ashkoor Wani, Ashiq Bikhari and Muneer Khan let loose rein of terror and were particularly targeting people associated with Tehreek-i-Hurriyat by arresting them on flimsy grounds. A delegation of JKLF (United), including Javed Ahmed Mir, Saleem Nanajinad Mohammed Iqbal Gendroo visited different jails in Jammu, including Kot Balwal jail, where Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bita Karate, Bilal Ahmed Siddiqi are lodged.The members expressed their concerns over the deteriorating health conditions of the detenues and also stated that the pro-movement detenues held in various jails of India were ill treated, reported Srinagar News on 11 April 2006. Srinagar Times reported on 12 April 2006, that in a tele-talk with a local news agency-KNS, Asia Indrabi, chairperson of DeM, stated that the U-turn taken by Pakistan with regard to Kashmir issue would not weaken the struggle. She also added that Kashmiris started the movement of their own and it could not be stopped if someone asked them to do so.

Five militants of Harkat-e-Jehad-i-Islami surrendered before the army along with arms and ammunition in Uri Sector after crossing over from the other side of LOC near Dulanja, Uri reported 'Alsafa' on 12 April 2006. Wadi-Ki-Awaz reported that S.A.S Geelani while addressing a meeting at Rafiabad in Baramulla district stated that holding elections under the shadow of 7 lakh armed forces was a joke. He also added how could a person make free use of his vote , when even a straw could not move without the permission of forces. Meanwhile after participating in a Milad function at Rafiabad, Geelani and his associates were arrested by police at Danglwacha, Handwara when he was on his way back to Srinagar. Tammel-i-Irshad reported on 14 April 2006, that Mohammed Yasin Malik of JKLF addressed a public meeting at Behrampora, Watergam and Krein and asked the people to boycott the by-elections. He added that these elections were hoax and were aimed at misleading public opinion. Meanwhile, a scuffle between the workers of PDP and supporters of JKLF took place at watergam, when PDP workers raised pro-election slogans near the venue where Yasin Malik was addressing an anti-election rally.

Wadi-Ki-Awaz reported that Javed Ahmed Mir convenor of JKLF-United and Saleem Nanaji, general Secretary of JKLF-United met Michael Van-Der-Ven of Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi and apprised him of Kashmir situation. Alsafa reported on 16 April 2006 that S.A.S Geelani, Chairman of APHC-G and Hizbul Mujahideen condemned the blasts, which rocked Srinagar on 14 April 2006. Five persons and several others were injured in the blasts. While talking to KNS he maintained that blast in crowded places was not suitable and security of common people should be taken in view. Wadi Ki Awaz reported that Shakir, spokesman for Al Mansoorian denied involvement in the series of blasts in Srinagar city. He stated that only security forces installations were the targets of his organisation. Al Mansoorian had never targeted common people and would never do so in future as well he added. Nida-i-Mashriq reported in 16 April 2006 that LeT has asked the police not to harass the people. Grenades were being lobbed on police personnel because they were harassing people it added. Srinagar News reported that, Abu Qadama spokesman of JeM, stated in a tele-statement that no one among the nine persons arrested by police belonged to JeM and the outfit had carried out only two blasts at Sekidafar and Bohrikadal localities in Srinagar on 14 April 2006. He also added that the arrested persons are innocents and he also appealed people not to remain near security forces camps and bunkers for long.

Srinagar Times reported on 17 April 2006 that Moulvi Umar Farooq of AAC while addressing a public meeting at Surankote-Poonch in Jammu stated that Hurriyat Conference was not in favor of the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and every effort in this direction would be defeated. He added that while Pakistan wanted to find a solution for Kashmir issue, India was not showing any flexibility. In an another public meeting near LOC, he stated that if the Central Government really wanted to find out a solution, it should restore pre-1947 position in Jammu and Kashmir as it would help in resolving the issue. Alsafa reported that Moulvi Umar Farooq while addressing a press conference stated that Pakistan and Hurriyat Conference has exhibited flexibility and now it is the turn of India to do the same. He also added that Hurriyat Conference would organise a separate Round-Table Conference for the representatives of all the five regions of the state in the month of July 2006.

In a press statement of JKLF (United) reported by "Aftab" on 19 April 2006, Javed Ahmed Mir and Saleem Nanaji of JKLF met York Schuegref, political secretary of German Embassy in New Delhi and Exchanged views on Kashmir issue and also on the ongoing dialogue process between India and Pakistan. Srinagar Times reported on 20 April 2006 that S.A.S.Geelani during his interaction with a delegation of 'Hindu Welfare Society' stated that people of Valley would welcome Kashmiri pundit migrants if they returned to their homes and started living with muslim brethren. But people of valley would oppose their demand for a separate homeland he added. Roshini reported that Shabir Ahmed Shah, while addressing a public meeting at Goshbug stated that coercing people for casting votes under the supervision of 10 lakh troops was not a democratic process. He was arrested along with his associates by the police on his back after addressing the public meeting.

In a tele-statement, Junaid-ul-Islam the spokesman of Hizbul Mujahdeen stated that PDP and National Conference were talking about the movement and Kashmir issue for their petty gains and also that both parties were responsible for genocide in Kashmir. He appealed to people to boycott by-elections as it could be an alternative to the right to self-determination, reported Uqaab on 21 April 2006. Alsafa reported that S.A.S.Geelani addressed a public meeting at Wagoora where he stated that casting vote was synonymous with lending support to the Indian oppression. He also added that pro-Indian political parties which were responsible for the creation of Kashmir issue, were politicising the same. Uqaab reported that Moulvi Umar Farooq of APHC-G, while addressing a seminar organised by Institute of Strategic Studies and Wolfson college, Cambridge University, UK, on the subject 'Kashmir issue and dialogue process' stated that Kashmir issue was a human issue and its resolution has become inevitable for peace in the sub-continent and also for the secured future of the people pf India and Pakistan. He added that under the changed world scenario, meaningful dialogue was only way to resolve all the disputed issues.

On 23 April 2006 Srinagar Times reported that Hizbul Mujahideen in a statement appealed to people to boycott the ensuing by-elections as these were aimed at misleading the world community and divert people's attention from the ongoing movement. S.A.S.Geelani of APHC(G) while addressing a press conference at his Srinagar residence stated that Congress, PDP and National Conference were enemies of Kashmiris and are bargaining freedom of Kashmiris for their lust of power. He added that election cannot be a substitute of freedom and UN resolutions and also peace process could not succeed until the troops are completely withdrawn. He was put under arrest from the morning of 22 April 2006 due to which he could not address the press conference at the party headquarters, reported Wadi Ki Awaz on 24 April 2006. Srinagar Times reported that Saleem Gillani a senior Hurriyat leader, while commenting on the assembly by-elections in Rafiabad, Sangrama and Pattan stated that the on-going freedom movement in Kashmir could not be affected with the so-called political activities. He also added that despite elections being held in Kashmir right from 1947, the issue continues to be on top of world issues pending resolution.

Wadi Ki Awaz reported that, United Hihad Council in a faxed statement threatened that in case India did not stop oppression and excesses in Kashmir, it would spread militant activities in the interior parts of India also. Alsafa reported on 27 April 2006 that, according to a audio cassette of Osama Bin Laden, broadcasted on Al-Jazeera TV, he made a mention of Kashmir for the first time and stated that a war by Hindus was going on against Muslims and 50 years back UN had given right of freedom to Kashmiri muslims from India. He added that recently George Bush had stated that he would advise President Pervez Musharraf to close training camps of Kashmiri militants, which indicated that it was an aggression against muslims.

Azam Inquilabi of Mahaz-e-Azadi, stated that while on one hand India and Pakistan are talking about resolution of Kashmir issue, on the other hand Indian government is establishing new army cantonments in Kashmir. The people had taken a sigh of relief with the ongoing CBMs between India and Pakistan, but the new developments have created insecurity feeling among the people reported Srinagar Times. According to Wadi Ki Awaz, APHC(A) in a statement made it clear that while dialogue process between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership was going on for creating a congenial atmosphere for the resolution of Kashmir issue, on the other side the story that Indian army had grabbed thousands of acres of land at Awantipora in Pulwama, could badly affect and hamper the dialogue process.

Activities of Kashmiri Political Parties
Roshini reported on 9 April 2006, that during an election rally at Baramulla, Omar Abdullah, President of National Conference stated that his party had its own agenda and deserved vote of people. He also added that the slogans of 'Self-Rule' was only a mischief aimed at weakening the National Conference's autonomy stand. On 9 April 2006, the Srinagar Times reported that Mufti Mohammed Sayed while addressing different public meetings at Poonch and Surankote in Jammu province stated that India and Pakistan now understood the basic realities. He added that the feelings and sentiments of the people of all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir should be kept in view for the resolution of Kashmir issue and separatist and militant groups should also be involved in the dialogue process. He also added that return of PoK based Kashmiri youths with changed mind-set is an issue which needs consideration.

Tameel-i-Irshad reported on 11 April 2006, that Mufti Mohammed Syed while addressing a press conference at Jammu, after his tour of Poonch and Rajouri districts, stated that implementation of Trade agreement between South Asian Countries (SAFTA) should start from Jammu and Kashmir on experimental basis. Srinagar Times reported that, Dr.Farooq Abdullah of National Conference asked President of Congress party, Sonai Gandhi to take notice of the new trend adopted by Mehbooba Mufti, the president of PDP on the issue of accession of Kashmir with India. He added that Mehbooba challenged Kashmir's accession with India by raising questions on it and asked Congress high command to note of the same.

Tameel-i-Irshad reported that Shoib Lone, an independent candidate, alleged that PDP candidate Javed Hussain Beig was violating election code of conduct. He added that government machinery was activated and some government employees were also campaigning. Wadi-Ki-Awaz reported that Prof Bhim Singh of Panthers party while addressing a press conference in Srinagar, stated that his party would fight from streets to the Supreme Court for the release of detenues who had completed two years term under PSA. He also expressed the hope that Hurriyat Conference would participate in the next Round-Table Conference to be held in May 2006. Roshini reported that Mehbooba Mufti, President of PDP, expressed the hope that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would invite leaders of all separatist groups and other personalities of different schools of thought to the next Round-Table Conference scheduled to be held in Srinagar.

Uqaab reported that during his talks with a local news agency-KNS, Ghulam Hassan Mir, a dissident leader of PDP stated that if Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig was not satisfied with mandate given to PDP candidate in Sangram, he should withdraw the candidate and support Shoib Lone who is Independent. Mir was commenting on the statement of Muzaffar Hussain Beig that Javed Beig did not deserve party mandate, yet he had to agree with the party decision. Tameel-i-Irshad reported that Tariq Hamid Qara, while addressing several election rallies in Pattan stated that National Conference had always exploited sentiments of Kashmiri people. If bargaining of Kashmiris would not have taken place in 1975, the situation would have been something different at this moment, he added. In a press conference, the district Election Commissioner of Baramulla stated that out of 264 polling stations earmarked for ensuing the Assembly by-elections, 161 have been declared as sensitive and 103 as hyper sensitive. However adequate security arrangements have been made for all the polling stations, he added. This was reported by Srinagar Times on 16 April 2006.

Alsafa reported on 16 April 2006 that during a road show, Omar Abdullah president of National Conference stated that the purpose of his visit to Pakistan was to support the efforts started 42 years back by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for the resolution of Kashmir issue on durable basis and in this connection PDP or any other party had no role to play. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that the list of invitees would be shortened for the proposed second Round-Table Conference in Srinagar, so that the view points of all sections of society could be presented. Ha also added that the Conference should not look like a public meeting and only selected persons would be invited in it. Srinagar News reported on 17 April 2006 that Dr.Karan Singh a senior Congress leader stated that people from all the five regions of both parts of Jammu and Kashmir should be involved in dialogue process to find out a justifiable solution of the Kashmir issue.

Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and reviewed present political and economic situation in the state and also discussed about the proposed second Round Table Conference to be held in Srinagar. Alsafa reported on 19 April 2006 that Mehbooba Mufti while addressing an election rally at Haritar stated that PDP had rescued the people from the cruelty and oppression of Ikhwanis and Task Forces and was able to restore their dignity. Policies of PDP were clear and transparent and opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road was a proof, she added. While addressing election rallies in Sangrama and Kreeri, Muzaffar Hussain Beig, deputy Chief Minister criticised Ghulam Hassan Mir for his anti-party activities and challenged his popularity asking him to resign for seeking a fresh mandate of the people, reported Wadi Ki Awaz. Srinagar News reported that while addressing election rallies in Pattan, Omar Abdullah stated that participation of separatist leaders was necessary for making the proposed Round-Table Conference successful.

Srinagar Times reported on 21 April 2006 that Ghulam Hassan Mir while addressing a press conference alleged that Muzaffar Hussain Beig had started holding meetings with surrendered militants and police officers to ensure success of his nephew. During his conversation with a local news agency-KNS, Muzaffar Hussain Beig stated that the activities of Ghulam Hassan Mir were intolerable and action against him has become inevitable. Reacting over the allegations of his contacts with surrendered militants, he stated that some top militants had surrendered at the behest of Mir and it was he who was friendly with them, reported Srinagar Times. Prof Bhim Singh of Panther Party stated that mainstream political parties and separatist organisations should come on one platform and try to convince the people with their view points. Conducting pro-election and anti-election campaigns separately created confusion among the people he added.

Srinagar Times reported on 22 April 2006 that Mufti Mohammed Syed while addressing an election rally at Singhpora, Pattan stated that there should be no limit in involving all the sections of thought in the dialogue process with regard to the resolution of Kashmir issue. Hailing the recent meeting between General Musharraf and mainstream politicians and separatist leaders, he maintained that separatist parties and militants should adopt a positive approach in the changed scenario for the success of the ongoing peace process. Alsafa reported on 23 April 2006 that, Dr.Farooq Abdullah while addressing an election meeting at Pattan stated that PDP is scattered and its existence would come to an end very soon. He rejected the suggestion by Mufti Mohammed Sayed for widening the ambit of dialogue process and also stated that all possible steps should be taken for involving separatists in the proposed Round Table Conference.

Srinagar Times reported on 24 April 2006 that Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was facing criticism from National Conference as well as coalition partner PDP on his remarks that holding talks by NDA government with Hizbul Mujahdeen in 2000 was shameful. The CM's statement that no talks would be held with militants, has disappointed Omar Abdullah of National Conference, he said while talking with UNI. While Mufti Mohammed Sayed the former Chief Minister had supported the steps taken by NDA government, calling it an initiative beyond the traditional attitude. Alsafa reported on 26 April 2006 that, National Conference in a statement said that whenever Mufti Mohammed Sayed remained close to power, he had tried to disturb peace in the state for his own political interest.

Srinagar News reported that Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami of CPM, while addressing a convention organised by an NGO "Friends of Kashmir", stated that with the changed attitude in Indo-Pak leadership, change in the attitude of political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir has become inevitable for a final resolution of the issue. Srinagar Times reported that leaders and representatives of different parties and groups have expressed hope that attention would be paid towards quality rather than quantity during the Second Round Table Conference to be held in Srinagar on 25 May 2006. They added that to avoid unnecessary crowd, only concerned people should be invited for making the talks useful. While addressing a public meeting at Shopian in Pulwama, Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami of CPM stated that political process needed to be strengthened in Kashmir to make the ongoing peace process in the sub-continent meaningful and purposeful, reported Wadi Ki Awaz.

Editorial Roundup
An editorial published in Tameel-i-Irshad on 10 April 2006 talked about the various conferences organised at the different levels to discuss the Kashmir dispute and its impact on the resolution of the dispute. During militancy, the issue invited international pressure on both India and Pakistan to find ways to solve the dispute, which led both sides to engage in track-II diplomacy to resolve the issue through dialogue process. Even though both sides took up several welfare measures to reduce the tension, no worthwhile progress was witnessed with regard to Kashmir issue and no improvement in the ground situation was felt in Kashmir. The only gain was that enough ground work was done for the continuation of dialogue process and for abandoning rigid attitude. Many conference like the Pugwash conference in Kathmandu and Lahore and Round-Table conference in New Delhi were held in order to discuss various options for the resolution of the issue, but no concrete results were achieved on Kashmir issue during these conferences. However the only gain was that pro-Indian, pro-Pakistani and Pro-independence groups got an opportunity to listen to each other and express their views freely. Besides the governments of India and Pakistan, the international community also appreciated such conferences. But the announcement made by Moulvi Umar Farooq (APHC-A) during his visit to Pakistan that Hurriyat would organise an alternate conference for obtaining opinion about the resolution of Kashmir issue, could affect the second Round-Table conference likely to be held in Srinagar.

An editorial by Wadi Ki Awaz, published on 11 April 2006, came out with the revelation of India's military ambitions in Kashmir. Dr. Farooq Abdullah the patron of the National Conference made a disclosure during an interview to a local newspaper that India was establishing new army cantonments in Kashmir. This is a matter of concern for every Kashmiri. He stated that the army had acquired vast land in border district of Kupwara and Ganderbal for establishing cantonments. He alleged that India was adopting deceptive measures, while in the name of dialogue process India is buying time but at the same time it is strengthening its grip over Kashmir. By this revelation Dr.Farooq Abdullah may be trying to win over public sympathies, but this issue is a matter of worry for every Kashmiri and their leadership. Kashmiris had been suffering from worst miseries since the last 16 years, but with this new development, it can worsen, since the security forces enjoyed unlimited powers in Kashmir. So any decision to further consolidate the army in the areas could take an ugly turn. The fact that the Kashmir issue could not be resolved by consolidating forces, but only by taking into consideration the ground realities has to be understood clearly by the parties involved in the dispute. Only this could do justice with the people of Kashmir and also guarantee peace in the South Asian region.

An editorial write up in Subah-i-Kashmir on 12 April 2006 discussed the steps taken by the Central government to hold conference involving various parties for furthering the dialogue process on Kashmir. Although several efforts were taken by the Central government in these lines in the last few years, these efforts were not result oriented due to the non -participation of separatist leadership. Even though the Central government succeeded in bringing to the table some separatist leaders of APHC(A), JKLF and People's Conference, the important sections of separatists associated with APHC(G) always kept distance. This group of Hurriyat conference under S.A.S.Geelani alleged that New Delhi was not ready for finding a durable resolution of Kashmir issue. It stated that it was not averse to the dialogue process but wants India to accept Kashmir as a disputed territory and that talks should be held for resolving its disputed status. On the other hand another group of Hurriyat Conference headed by Moulvi Umar Farooq had already involved itself in the dialogue process by holding meetings with A.B.Vajpayee former Prime Minister, L.K.Advani former Deputy PM and Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh. In the Round Table Conference held in New Delhi on 25 February 2006, the Central government tried to involve the separatist groups, but they declined the offer calling it as an "overcrowded bus". This was seen by some quarters as wastage of chance. At the time when everyone is trying to involve people from all schools of thought to express their view point, these abstentions from the meetings and conferences would not help in finding a solution for the dispute. The fact that nobody from outside would come for resolving Kashmir issue has to be also kept in mind. Even USA which wants peace in South Asia had declined to mediate in the matter. This triangular process going on between the concerned parties could pave way for tripartite talks. The Round -Table conference to be held in Srinagar on 25 May 2006, can prove more useful only after the participation by separatist leadership is ensured. However the need of the time is that such chances should be exploited to the maximum.

An editorial published by Khidmat on 14 April 2006 talked about the various stands taken by Mohammed Yasin Malik Chairman of JKLF on the dialogue process and put up the point that he should take part in it if he really wants to see the solution of Kashmir issue. The reason put forward by Yasin Malik for not attending the second Round-Table Conference to be held in Srinagar is that he did not want to share the table with mainstream politicians. He also maintained the same reason for not participating in the first Round-Table Conference held in New Delhi. However, he had come up with a new idea of starting a peace yatra to convey to India and Pakistan that Kashmiri people were supporting the peace process so that they could get access to the decision making process in the solution of Kashmir issue. He also stated that he supported the peace process between India and Pakistan, but he added that no concrete progress was made in the last three years and people of Kashmir were losing patience. His statement itself is contradictory. Sometime back, when he was invited by for a meeting with Prime Minister Singh, he said that he was going to meet the Prime Minister, yet he considered it as a sin. But on the other hand, he advocated involvement of Kashmiris in the dialogue process, but he was not ready to share the table with mainstream politicians. If his stand was correct and if he posed confidence he should not hesitate to share the table with mainstream politicians. It is strange that the people, who advocated the involvement of Kashmiris in the dialogue process were hesitant to join the dialogue. leaders like Yasin Malik have advocated the involvement of militants in the dialogue process, when the militant leadership itself was not ready to participate. They have even rejected leaders like Yasin Malik. He should make his stand clear, if he was not interested in joining the dialogue process he should state it clearly. However, instead of signature campaigns and yatras, he should join the dialogue process and try to put up his stand before the world.

An editorial published in Alsafa on 16 April 2006 stated the lack of a effective and dependable leadership for fighting for their cause. With the start of the armed struggle in Kashmir in 1989, dozens of organisations came up. During this time the need for a pro-separatist party was felt and in 1993 the All Party Hurriyat Conference came into existence. However during the last 15 years hundreds of political organisations came into existence.Later Hurriyat Conference was divided in to two factions on the issue of state assembly elections and same was the fate of the various other organisations.After the 08 October 2005 earthquake, Kashmiri leaders were invited to Pakistan, but it was a divided lot at that point of time also. Pakistani President General Musharraf had also suggested them to unite.During the conference organised by the World Social Forum in Karachi, Yasin Malik of JKLF stated that Kashmiris needed a perfect leadership and a referendum should be held to elect leaders for Kashmiri people.During the last 15 years one lakh people had lost their lives, thousands were untraceable after their arrests, hundreds of children turned orphans and hundreds of Kashmiri youth were languishing in jails. The people claiming to be the representatives of Kashmiris are unable to unite even today. They could give them nothing but hartals. The need for a strong and effective political leadership, as suggested by Yasin Malik, is an issue which needed consideration at this point of time.

In a letter to the editor of Srinagar Times, Assadullah Jiggar stated that the statement of G.M.Shah former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir that he has a formula in his mind for the resolution of Kashmir issue was keenly observed by political observers. During a press conference a few days back, G.M.Shah had laid stress that involvement of India, Pakistan and Kashmiri people were necessary for the solution of the Kashmir problem. He stressed that the involvement of organisations and personalities who are associated with Kashmir issue is necessary for finding out a solution. On militancy, he said that it had helped in the recognition of the issue and a stage had reached when political leadership has to play its role for the success of peaceful talks and just solution of the issue.The need of the time is that all the political parties, social workers and religious bodies should set aside their differences and work for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. Mr.Assadullah Jiggar added that Mr.Shah was a leading politician whose views should be valued as there was no harm if good things stated by him were discussed in detail.

An editorial write up of Mission Kashmir discussed the need for taking into due consideration the aspirations of common Kashmiris in the various dialogue held by the various parties, as it was felt that the aspirations of Kashmiris were not given enough weightage. Kashmir is a disputed issue between India and Pakistan since 1947, which resulted in three wars between the two neighbours. The United Nations had passed 17 resolutions on Kashmir and the people of Jammu and Kashmir were given the right to self-determination to choose their destiny. Since the start of the separatist movement in Kashmir, Lakhs of Kashmiris has lost their lives. But, now both India and Pakistan have started various Confidence Building Measure (CBMs) under pressure of world leaders and a number of steps are taken in normalising the relationship. A number of conferences were held on Kashmir in India and Pakistan recently, in which participants including Hurriyat leaders participated. Both India and Pakistan have put forward a number of proposals for the resolution of the issue and political leaders too have organised seminars and conferences on the issue, but the fact that the common Kashmiris aspirations are neglected has to be taken into consideration.

In an editorial published by Wadi Ki Awaz on 21 April 2006, it came out the proposal that the State and Central governments should show more responsibility in the case of releasing the detenues held in various jails. During the first Round-Table Conference at New Delhi in February 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured that all suitable steps would be taken for the release of Kashmiri detenues lodged in various jails in the country.It was believed that about 400 detenues would be released, whose cases were recommended by the State government to the Centre. However, only 40 detenues, who were already waiting release under the orders of the state high court or had completed their tenure of their sentence were released. This was not the first time that the centre had assured release of detenues and later did not honour its promise. About two years back assurances given to APHC(A) leaders during their first meeting with the central leaders did not materialise. Later on, they had to face stiff opposition from others and in the end they lost interest in the deliberations. However observers believe that the Centre would take all possible steps before the Second Round-Table Conference scheduled to held in Srinagar, so that credibility would be brought to the assurances given by the Centre and would like the participation of secessionist leaders in the Round Table Conference. The state and Central governments should know that such acts degrade the credibility of the government and people would lose confidence of the leaders.

In an editorial writeup by Nida-i-Mashriq published on 22 April 2006 the ongoing friction among the PDP leaders and the trick played by the leaders for their personal gains were discussed. The by-election to three Assembly seats in the Valley has created fissures among the PDP leaders and it was likely that the party might break into two groups. The groupism was already there in PDP, but by-elections has made these divisions clear. The party had failed to evolve a basic policy on important issues and had always tried to play opportunistic politics from time to time.The groupism in PDP was not based on principles, rather it was a clash of personalities and for stakes in power and enjoyment at the expense of the people. Both the groups are trying to fool the people for their own personal benefits and they have nothing to do with the welfare of the common masses. But the fact that the two groups, one led by Ghulam Hassan Mir and the other led by father-daughter duo of Mufti Mohammed Sayed and Mehbooba Mufti are trying to pull the other group down, but the fact that after the elections, both the groups might try to patch up with each other is also a possibility.

In a letter to the Srinagar Times the Kashmir Bar Association protested against the arrest of nine Kashmiris in connection with the Srinagar blasts. They were lifted by Kashmir police who are infamous for implicating innocent Kashmiris in false cases and subsequently subjecting them to various types of atrocities and harsh treatment. The nine persons arrested by the police were subjected to maltreatment and beatings which were visible on 19 April 2006, when they were produced in the court of Second Additional Munsif for further remand of 10 days in police custody. The Bar Association has appealed to human rights groups and activists to raise voice against the inhuman treatment of detenues and also called for boycott of ensuing by-elections in the Valley. This according to them would deny the government of India an opportunity to exploit the human rights of Kashmiris through its agents.

In a letter to the editor of Srinagar Times, the spokesman of Hurriyat conference stated that it has appealed to Amnesty International to come forward and exert its influence for the release of detenues and work for the stoppage of new arrests. He stated that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was critical and volatile despite the claims of the government that number of steps had been taken initiated for restoring confidence. But the government had not fulfilled its promise of releasing detenues and the entire police force has been converted into a task force. Intimidation and arrests were still continuing and a new phase has been started for the arrest of released militants. Recently a number of released militants belonging to Muslim League and other outfits were taken into custody and no one was allowed to meet them. Hurriyat Conference is likely to submit a comprehensive report to the ' Amnesty International', regarding the recent arrests of innocent people.

An editorial published in Srinagar Times observed that the Second Round Table Conference to be held in Srinagar is a chance for the Hurriyat leaders to face the challenge and show their mettle before the mainstream leaders. Hurriyat leaders has been invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 3 May 2006 for talks before the second Round Table Conference. It appears that they have shown willingness to attend the Second Round Table Conference at Srinagar, despite their earlier reservations over the agenda of the Conference.The first Round Table was attended by mainstream parties, eminent intellectuals, media persons and leaders of ethnic groups from the three regions of Kashmir.Even though it was not a failed conference, it was incomplete in the sense that Hurriyat leaders did not attend the meet.They are seriously thinking of attending the Second Round Table Conference, but before that they wanted some clarifications from the Prime Minister over the issue. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq stated that the real issue was between Hurriyat and Centre and Centre has to talk with them.They knew that deliberations on the table with mainstream leaders and others were the best option for finding out an acceptable solution to Kashmir issue. There was time when the mainstream leaders were opposed to talks with militants and secessionist groups, but now they favoured unconditional talks for finding out an honourable solution to the issue. This Round Table Conference is a chance for the Hurriyat leaders to voice their opinion and also to show the mainstream leaders that there are no shortcoming in their stand.

A Srinagar Times editorial stated that the results of the recently held Assembly by-election were surprising and the overwhelming voting by the general public surprised the observers and proved a nightmare for both the factions of Hurriyat. Ghulam Nabi Azad won the Bhaderwash Assembly seat by a record margin where both muslims and hindus voted overwhelmingly in his favor. The BJP candidate did not do well in the elections as hindus did not favor his candidature. It was expected that Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari would win easily and Dilwar Mir would not be able to overcome the hurdles this times. However, it was proved otherwise and stalwarts like Ansari lost the Pattan seat at the hands of Mustafa Kamal and Dilwari Mir won the Rafiabad seat. Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari and deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig who were sure to win the elections were the worst sufferers. Ghulam Hassan Mir was the happiest man who had increased his attacks on Muzaffar Hussain Beig and PDP leadership after the poor show in the elections. The surprising results of the by-elections would have far reaching consequences in the state politics in future. PDP's Ghulam Hassan Mir, who was once the opponent of Mustafa Kamal is now his closest confidant and National Conference would like to keep Ghulam Hassan Mir in good humour at the cost of PDP. It was likely that the difference between Congress and PDP would increase in coming days, which could be exploited by National Conference for filling the gap.