The Times of India on Saturday reported that the offer of a “quiet dialogue” by the union Home Minister P Chidambaram has not gone down too well with pro-autonomy leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.
The hardline leader Syed Ali Geelani rejected it, saying that it was an attempt to “discredit him”, as he had not softened his stand.
“I strongly reject the talks offer by the home minister. It is a conspiracy to discredit me and an attempt to suppress the ongoing agitation for the right to self-determination,” Geelani said.
Speaking to some media persons here late Friday evening, Geelani, chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat group, said: “I won’t participate in any dialogue process unless India accepts Kashmir as a disputed territory, withdraws its troops from the Valley, and helps implement the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir.”
Geelani accused the New Delhi for trying to create confusion amongst the masses by extending the talks offer to him.
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has termed the talks offer as “sheer hypocrisy”, as they said that talks and killings could not go together.
The JKLF vice president Bashir Ahmad Bhat said, “The JKLF never opposed the talks. But these should be aimed at resolving the long-standing dispute. New Delhi has never been sincere on Kashmir. Besides, talks and killings can’t go together. This is sheer hypocrisy.”
In the mainstream political camp, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti said that New Delhi should initiate certain tangible confidence building measures, including release of all the freedom fighters and youths arrested during the ongoing protests, before initiating the dialogue process.
“On one hand they talk about initiating political process and on the other Rapid Action Force (RAF) is marching on the streets here,” Mehbooba said.
It should be noted that the central government, in order to win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir said that it would resume dialogue, and asked the freedom fighters including Geelani to join the effort.
Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha that the centre was keen on fulfilling its promises, including those on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and reduction of security personnel in the state, depending on the situation in Kashmir.
Chidambaram also said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be receiving an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, possibly next Monday, and that leaders of parties in parliament would also be called for a meeting.
It may be mentioned that Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, declined to make any comment on Chidambaram’s dialogue offer.
Senior leader of the ruling National Conference (NC) and Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar said the state government especially Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, had been trying to initiate the dialogue process between separatists and New Delhi.
“There is no denying the fact that the Kashmir issue has to be resolved politically. We have been making efforts to engage the separatists in talks but it has been facing bottlenecks.”
“We welcome the statement of the home minister and believe separatists have to be taken on board to resolve the vexed issue,” Sagar said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2010.