|Thursday, May 4, 2000,
to gauge Pak reaction
price hike may be rolled back
Hurriyat to gauge Pak reaction
JAMMU, May 3 Despite three senior Hurriyat Conference leaders, including its Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, being in Delhi, confusion persists whether the offer for talks made by the Government of India will be accepted by all separatists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
The three Hurriyat leaders, including Prof Abdul Gani Bhat and Molvi Umar Farooq, have been, in fact, goaded by the US Congressman, Mr David Bonior, to visit Delhi and accept the offer for bilateral talks. A senior Hurriyat Conference leader said by being in Delhi it does not mean we have accepted the offer for talks. He said we have to first watch the reaction in Pakistan and gauge the sincerity of the Government of India.
He made it clear that even if the talks were held, we may insist on involving Pakistan in the parleys at a later stage. He said the Hurriyat Conference Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had already said he was in favour of tripartite talks and we may accept bilateral talks if we are assured that Islamabad will also be invited to join the talks after some time.
Informed sources said the three Hurriyat leaders had not yet been able to meet the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi, Mr Ashraf Jehangir Qazi. They intended to discuss with him whether they ought to accept the offer for bilateral talks.
The sources said the Hurriyat leaders may seek permission to visit Pakistan before they could start a dialogue with the Government of India. But there are indications that the Centre may discourage the Hurriyat leaders in the mission.
If permission is given it will be construed that India accepts Pakistan as a party to the dispute and its guidance and instructions to the Kashmiri separatists are required for a meaningful dialogue.
Though Molvi Umar Farooq,Mr Abdul Gani Lone, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat and Molvi Abbas Ansari have softened their stand on talks, there are others, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, senior activists of Jamait-e-Islami, Chief of the JKLF, Mr Mohammad Yasin Malik and Islamic Students League leader, Shakeel Bakshi, who was released from detention yesterday, are yet to be in favour of bilateral talks.
The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party chief, Mr Shabir Ahmed Shah, is for tripartite talks. Soon after his release, Mr Shakeel Bakshi said in Jammu that the Kashmir solution had to be found in phases and the Hurriyat Conference cannot find a solution because they do not have a mandate to do so. He stated that complete demilitarisation of Kashmir was needed before talks could begin.
He even questioned the wisdom of the Centre in inviting the Huriyat leaders to talks because this was being done to divert peoples attention from real issues.
Since the government is keen an participation by all shades of separatist groups, several central agencies are trying to persuade the JKLF chief to join the proposed talks. Observers are of the opinion that negotiations with some Hurriyat leaders may not cut much ice if all senior leaders of the Jamait-e-Islami and the JKLF do not accept the offer for talks made by the Centre.
The observers say even if talks are held, the current security scenario may not witness an improvement, unless Pakistan suspends material and moral aid to militants operating in the state. For the time being, Pakistan seems opposed to the talks.
There are apprehensions that if talks between the government and the Hurriyat leaders take off at any stage, Islamabad may kick up a major border row with India to sabotage these. Those who harbour such apprehensions refer to the deployment of two additional brigades of troops across Uri, Kupwara and Bandipore sectors in recent days. In addition, Pakistan has decided to post trained commandos from militant arms training camps on the border.
India may have one
advantage if its offer for talks is accepted by all
constituents of the Hurriyat Conference. In that case
Pakistans political arms in Kashmir may be twisted,
allowing Delhi a chance to convey to the world that all
local political leaders have shun separatist robes and as
such Pakistan has no role to interfere in the internal
matters of India. At the same time the government cannot
afford to win over the Hurriyat conference at the cost of
the National Conference. Despite marked erosion in its
strength, the National Conference continues to be a force
to reckon with in the state. As such, the Chief Minister,
Dr Farooq Abdullah, should be kept informed about the
plans of the centre.
PDS price hike may be rolled
SRINAGAR, May 3 The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah, announced yesterday that the State government will partly reduce the recent hike in prices of foodgrains provided through the public distribution system. The quantum of reduction would be announced on Monday, an official spokesman said.
Addressing a largely attended public meeting after inauguration of a water supply augmentation scheme, Tulmulla and laying the foundation stone of Water Supply scheme at Harren Sheerpathri, at Ganderbal today, Dr Abdullah said that the state government was not in a position to fully hold back the price hike but would take up the matter with the Centre. He said the proposed reduction in prices of foodgrains would provide relief to the people. The decision to defer the already announced hike in electricity tariff, he said, had also been taken with this consideration.
Asking people to make judicious use of electricity, the Chief Minister said the State owed Rs 600 crore to the Centre on account of the electricity tariff. He urged the people to pay their dues in time and help the Government in attaining self-sufficiency in power generation. He said the second phase of Kangan hydel project would be completed soon.
The Chief Minister
appealed the people to use potable water economically and
help in conserving available water resources, which, he
had, would deplete considerably over the next two
decades. He said water is going to be more precious than
petrol and future battles may be fought over water than
anything else. Even today, he said, people are dying for
a drop of water in some parts of the world.
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