Sunday, July 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hurriyat welcomes talks offer
Sees change in govt approach
From Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, July 29 — In a significant development, the Hurriyat Conference today hailed the Centre’s talks offer to the Hizbul Mujahideen “outside the framework of the Constitution” in response to its ceasefire announcement by the latter.

Describing the move as a welcome change in the Central Government’s approach, APHC chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat said it could lead to a final settlement of the Kashmir issue. “Even if there are complexities, a positive approach can lead to the settlement of the Kashmir issue in the larger interest of peace and security”, Mr Bhat said in a statement.

The chairman favoured initiation of a comprehensive and meaningful political process for an honourable, judicious and long-lasting solution to the Kashmir issue to ensure peace and prosperity. He said changes at the international level in general and within the sub-continent in particular viz-a-viz Kashmir would “lead to peace, prosperity and a bright future”.

Earlier the APHC, a conglomeration of separatists political and social organisations, had described the ceasefire announcement of the Hizbul Mujahideen as a “hasty move”. The guarded statement came after a day-long discussion on the issue by senior executive members on Wednesday.

The APHC has been in favour of tripartite talks to resolve the issue among India Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

The Hizbul Mujahideen in a surprise and significant development on July 24 had announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months and favoured a dialogue to end the Kashmir dispute. Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen (now in Pakistan), yesterday had indicated that the outfit would only monitor any dialogue on the Kashmir issue but not participate in such a dialogue.

He had hinted at the Hurriyat’s participation in the talks which in his opinion was the only representative political organisation.

According to a spokesman of the Hizbul Mujahideen here, the outfit has neither surrendered nor given up its armed struggle. The outfit has simply suspended its operations for three months to pave the way for a dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue.

He has appealed to both India and Pakistan to resolve the issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

Regarded as the militant wing of Jammat-e-Islami, the Hizbul Mujahideen has been a front-ranking militant outfit in Kashmir over the past one decade.

Several other militant outfits have resolved to “continue the freedom struggle” to take to its “logical conclusion”. These organisations include Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Fateh Force, Islamic Front, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Barq, Harket-e-Jehadi Islami and Mujahideen Taliban.

“India does not accept Kashmir as a disputed territory and instead, claims Kashmir to be its integral part. If it is so, then on what issues shall the talks be held — on Farooq’s autonomy or transfer of power”, statement of the outfits said.

Mainstream political parties and groups have hailed the ceasefire offer of the Hizbul Mujahideen. The Jammu and Kashmir Ikhwan, a counter insurgent group comprising surrendered militants, has also hailed the development. A spokesman of the Ikhwan claimed that it had decided not to carry out attacks on any militant group.


Halt operations, Army told

SRINAGAR, July 29 (UNI) — Lieut-General J. R. Mukherjee, GOC, 15 Corps, today said that operations against militant organisations other than the Hizbul Mujahideen would continue in the Kashmir valley.

Addressing a press conference here, he said following directions from the Centre, Field Commanders of all security forces across the Kashmir valley had been instructed to suspend operations against Hizbul Mujahideen militants — locals and foreigners — with immediate effect.

“However, our operations against militants belonging to other outfits will continue”, he said.

General Mukherjee said that troops on the Line of Control (LoC) had been directed to be more vigilant to thwart any attempt by Pakistan to infiltrate foreign mercenaries into the valley.

“I have passed orders to the troops to be extra vigilant at the LoC to stop infiltration and thwart Pakistan’s designs”, he said.

Referring to the ceasefire announced by the Hizbul Mujahideen, General Mukherjee said “we have put a suitable mechanism in place so that the peace process is not jeopardised.”

He said the ceasefire offer reflected the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir who were tired of militancy and wanted to live a peaceful life.

The Union Government last night responded positively to the ceasefire offer by inviting Hizbul Mujahideen representatives to come in the open for talks”, the General said.

Asked how the security forces would identify between Hizbul Mujahideen and other outfits, he said the ground rules would be worked out for the purpose.

“We have inputs about the presence of Hizbul Mujahideen militants and we will try not to conduct any operation in that area”, he explained.

About yesterday’s killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Farooq Ahmad alias Feroz Moulvi, by troops at Lolipora in Badgam, he said it was due to a misunderstanding.

The Hizbul commander had opened fire at the troops and in the retaliatory action, he was killed. Asked if the Moulvi had violated the ceasefire announced by his organisation, the General said he had opened fire in panic after seeing an Army unit.

“We have to get together to work out ground rules to avoid such unfortunate incidents in future. We have requested the Hizbul not to allow their militants to move around with guns. We will also request them to keep us informed about their presence in a particular area”, he said.

Radical groups support ceasefire

LONDON, July 29 (PTI) — Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen’s unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir has attracted considerable support from radical groups.

Syed Nazir Gilani, Secretary-General of the Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKCHR), broke ranks to declare it is wrong to aver that militancy has to be part of any endeavour to achieve peace and rights for the people in Kashmir.

He had earlier backed the demand for plebiscite in Kashmir, he told newspersons here last night.

Shabir Choudhry, President JKLF, UK and Europe, also welcomed the move. 


Talks with Hizbul 
Advani hopeful of positive response

CHENNAI, July 29 (PTI) — Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, today said the Centre was dealing with a "measure of caution" the declaration of three-month unilateral ceasefire by the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and hoped its leaders would come overground for talks to facilitate the restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.

"We may have reservations talking to Pakistan while it is trying to indulge in violence and cross-border terrorism, but we have no hesitation in talking to our own people even though they have strayed to the path of militancy," he told reporters here referring to the Centre’s readiness to hold dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen.

"Even the security forces have been involved in this exercise. It remains to be seen how it shapes hereafter", Mr Advani said adding that the Centre was dealing with the issue with a "measure of caution."

In a significant development the Centre last night asked the Hizbul Mujahideen leadership to come overground for talks.

Unlike other militant outfits in the valley such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, which basically has base in Pakistan, the Hizbul Mujahideen, though pro-Pakistan, comprised mainly of Kashmiris, he said.

Mr Advani said that in the last few days, after the Hizbul declared the ceasefire, violence in the valley had come down.

There had also been corresponding response from the security forces, he said.

Briefly touching upon the Centre’s three-pronged strategy to combat militancy, the Home Minister said the first approach was to "defeat violence on ground and militancy".

Secondly, the Centre was ready for negotiations with ‘those who have strayed on the path of militancy’ and deal with their legitimate grievances, he said and added that the third approach was to accelerate the development process.

Mr Advani said "There were cynics who said our appeal for talks was receiving no response, even though they were aware that insofar as the Naga rebels are concerned, the Government of India was carrying on negotiations. Since then the Centre has received response also from the Bodo militants in Assam and lately from the Hizbul Mujahideen".

Mr Advani was here on his way to Pondicherry.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |