Monday, December 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Involve Pak in talks: APHC
Clash at meeting venue leaves 12 injured
From Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Dec 17 — The All-Party Hurriyat Conference at its meeting today favoured a meeting with leaders of India, Pakistan and the militants for a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem.

At least 12 persons were injured when the police used force to disperse clashing supporters of pro-independence and pro-Pakistan groups outside the APHC office. The clash took place soon after the conclusion of the crucial meeting.

The trouble began when supporters of pro-Pakistan outfits Muslim Conference, Muslim League, Islamic Students League and Peoples League raised slogans to shout down pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) supporters outside the Hurriyat headquarters where the meeting was on.

The police, deployed outside the venue at Rajbagh charged with batons to separate the clashing groups.

As leaders of the seven-member Hurriyat executive came out of the meeting one by one, supporters of respective parties raised slogans while escorting their leaders outside the headquarters.

When JKLF Chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik came out, his supporters raised pro-freedom slogans. Angered supporters of pro-Pakistan constituents of the Hurriyat raised counter-slogans, demanding “Kashmir be included” in Pakistan.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, considered a hardliner, made a vain bid to pacify the clashing groups. He was persuaded by his supporters to leave.

A statement issued at the end of the daylong meeting of the executive body of the APHC, stated that the APHC would participate in any “meaningful political process” for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. It said the Hurriyat leaders felt that if the Prime Minister was ‘sincere’ in his ceasefire offer, it would definitely be a positive change in the mindset of the Indian leadership towards Kashmir.

The crucial meeting the first of its kind after the Centre’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan, started at its headquarters at Rajbagh here this morning.

The meeting discussed the strategy to be adopted by the all-party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a conglomeration of 23 organisations, vis-à-vis the Centre’s offer for talks.

The rejection of tripartite talks to “resolve the Kashmir issue” by the Centre and the recent statement of a senior APHC leader in Pakistan were also discussed.

All seven members of the executive committee of the APHC attended the closed-door meeting at the party headquarters. They were its chairman, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Peoples Conference leader Abdul Gani Lone, who arrived here a few days ago after over a month’s stay in Pakistan to attend his son’s marriage with JKLF chief Amanullah Khan’s daughter, former chairmen of the APHC Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Moulvi Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yaseen Malik of the JKLF, Moulvi Abbas Ansari and Sheikh Abdul Aziz.

Except for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Peoples League leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the rest have recently returned from the Capital.

When top leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Abdul Gani Lone arrived at the venue of the meeting this morning, their supporters, who have divergent views, raised slogans in their support. The supporters had clashed and exchanged fisticuffs last Sunday during a seminar held in connection with the International Human Rights Day.

The clash ensued when a leader of the Muslim League of Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat criticised Mr Lone’s stand on the situation in Kashmir.

He reportedly stated that Islamic extremism was a threat to Kashmir. This led to noisy scenes during the seminar.Back


Talks only if violence ends: PM
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today acknowledged that “some peace” is prevailing along the Line of Control (LoC) but made it clear that New Delhi would resume dialogue with Islamabad only if violence, terrorism and killings in Jammu and Kashmir ended.

“Internationally India’s stand has been recognised and Pakistan has been isolated. There is pressure on Pakistan to initiate talks (with India). We are ready for talks but violence, terrorism and killings must stop,” Mr Vajpayee told a large group of newly-elected corporators from Lucknow here.

Indicating that the ceasefire could be extended beyond the holy month of Ramzan, the Prime Minister observed that though some peace was prevailing along the LoC, militants were continuing to target the security forces and their camps in the valley.

“There are certain terrorist groups based in Pakistan which are not respecting the ceasefire, are against talks and are indulging in violence,” he said.

“But the ceasefire has shown how people of Kashmir and Ladakh have been yearning for peace. Common people in Kashmir are totally against violence,” he asserted.

Maintaining that some groups and certain people had a “vested” interest in ensuring that violence continued, Mr Vajpayee said the security forces were taking suitable action against them.

On the domestic political front, Mr Vajpayee said the pace at which governments were changing in the past had “slowed down but I do not know how long this trend will continue”.

Asserting that the government was ruling on the basis of the NDA agenda, the Prime Minister said “running a coalition ministry is a difficult job. We are doing our best to take everyone along and our efforts will continue”.

Referring to the economy, he said situation was not disturbing, the country was self-sufficient in food, the rupee was quite stable against the international currencies as also the US dollar and foreign exchange reserves were adequate.

The delegation of corporators and representatives from other Lucknow civic bodies, who were elected last month, informed the Prime Minister about the developmental activities which had taken place in his constituency. They were led by UP minister Lalji Tandon.

Although Mr Tandon said the representatives had not come with any demands, Mr Vajpayee was flooded with files of requests at the end. A portrait of the Prime Minister made by a boy, books and other gifts were also presented to Mr Vajpayee.

He listened to several suggestions made by the people of his constituency regarding setting up of industries in the state, gas pipe lines and institutions and nodded at the ones he thought feasible.

“You want a big industry. Where is the money going to come from”, he asked one corporator.Back

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