Friday, May 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Malik freed, rules out talks
Tribune News Service & agencies

NEW DELHI, May 4 — Senior Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik, who was released from the Tihar Jail earlier in the day, tonight ruled out any negotiations with the central government unless the talks involved the parties concerned.

In an interview to the First Edition, to be telecast tomorrow morning, he said there must not be any precondition and “we should involve all the three parties concerned — India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir”. He justified involving Pakistan in the negotiations as a large part of Kashmir was under its control.

Mr Malik said good sense must prevail upon the Vajpayee government because India and its economy were bleeding on the soil of Kashmir.

“We are not against the peace process but it should be within the principle of justice,” he clarified. Since it was not a centre-state subject, it could not be dealt with under the country’s Constitution, he added.

The Kashmiri leader denied having received any direct offer of talks from the government saying whatever he had come to know was through the newspapers. He said 13 Hurriyat leaders were still languishing in jail, some of them for the past one decade.

The Hurriyat leader was arrested in Srinagar in September-October 1999 under the Public Safety Act for opposing parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, in its twin-pronged strategy to initiate a dialogue with the dissident and militant leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre released five senior Hurriyat leaders and established informal contacts with some of the leaders of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

While the Muslim Conference leader, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, met the former Environment Minister, Prof Saifuddin Soz, another channel of communication with Hurriyat leaders has been established through a Calcutta-based person who runs an NGO. He has in the past also acted as a channel of communication.

While the Centre is making a serious effort to improve the environment for talks by taking some confidence-building measures, the Hurriyat leadership is in the process of assessing the situation by ascertaining Islamabad’s perception of India’s offer of talks.

As part of the confidence-building measures, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Mr Yasin Malik, Mr Abdul Ahad Waza, Mr Ghulam Mohammad Sankar, Mr Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai and Mr Abdul Ahad Dandoo were released from Tihar jail after a detention of more than six months under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

As a matter of fact, the Hurriyat leadership is under tremendous public pressure to deliver results now. A senior leader said if they failed to respond to the Centre’s call for a dialogue, the Hurriyat would lose public sympathy and the movement would go out of their control. On the other hand, the Hurriyat leadership has to evolve a consensus among the various constituents of the APHC which hold divergent views.

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