Sunday, May 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No talks with Hurriyat: Advani

Nagpur, May 6 (UNI) — Union Home Minister L.K. Advani today said the Centre would not extend any formal invitation to Hurriyat Conference leaders, freed recently from jail, for talks on ending militancy in Kashmir.

“Let them first make up their mind,’’ Mr Advani told reporters in reply to a question at a press conference.

He said the government had not probed their minds nor imposed any conditions while releasing Mr Yasin Malik and other leaders from jail.

He explained that the government had made similar experiments with regard to separatist leaders in some North Eastern states and wanted to show Pakistan how India approached such issues.

He flatly denied that the Kashmiri leaders were released under pressure from the USA.

A top functionary of the Vajpayee government had earlier in the day described Hurriyat leaders as a confused lot, making it difficult to initiate a dialogue for resolution of the Kashmir problem.

“Some want talks, others are reluctant,’’ he had said in New Delhi when asked about the response of Hurriyat leaders to the government offer for talks to bring about peace in the troubled state.

Several top Hurriyat leaders have been released lately by the Centre to prepare ground for the talks for which the government is reported to have sought the services of former Chief Minister Syed Mir Qasim. Defence Minister George Fernandes, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had briefed Mr Mir Qasim about the Centre’s intention on the dialogue.

The functionary said the government was willing to talk with Kashmiri leaders but ruled out involvement of Pakistan in it. “We will talk only with our own people to bring about normalcy in the state,’’ he said.

The government would adopt a three-pronged approach to solve the problems in the state. Violence would have to be contained on ground, as a first step, to be followed by economic development and talks with all those who have legitimate grievances.

Advani said India would not repeat its mistakes of the past in responding to the Sri Lankan government call for assistance in dealing with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Jaffna Peninsula.

He said there was complete unanimity in the views of the Centre and Tamil Nadu leaders, including Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, in handling the Sri Lankan issue. “There could be humanitarian assistance but not military help in rescuing the government forces trapped by LTTE following the fall of Elephant Pass,’’ he said.

When pointed out that Sri Lanka could now turn to Pakistan, Israel and other countries for military help, Mr Advani said India was capable of safeguarding its interests in such an eventuality.

To a question, Mr Advani said he talked to Tamil Nadu leader Vaiko and the latter supported the government’s stand on the issue. Mr Vaiko, an ally of the BJP-led government at the Centre, had reportedly compared LTTE leader Prabhakaran with Napolean in his speech at a conference abroad.

Replying to a question on his party MLAs’ cross-voting in Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP leader replied that it was unfortunate and something would have to be done about it.Back

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