Friday, May 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shabir’s response positive: Pant
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 3
The Centre’s negotiator on Kashmir K. C. Pant today welcomed separatist leader Shabir Shah’s response to his invitation for talks, saying the dialogue process provided a window of opportunity to move towards the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem.

A two-member team of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) today met Mr Pant to hand over a letter from party president Shabir Shah for seeking clarifications on the peace process.

The team, comprising party’s chief organiser Saleem Geelani and secretary general Maulana Abdullah Tari met Mr Pant at his residence in the evening. The meeting lasted for about 15 minutes.

“This is a good step forward. I welcome Shabir Shah’s response to my invitation for a dialogue on finding a peaceful solution to the problem,” Mr Pant said.

The JKDFP letter seeks Centre’s response on the involvement of Pakistan in negotiations on the Kashmir problem, the involvement of militant groups in the dialogue process, the recognition of Kashmir as a core issue and talks only with secessionist and separatist groups. Besides, the letter also seeks clarifications over the role of the National Conference, the Congress and political outfits launched by surrendered militants.

Asked about his response to clarifications sought by Mr Shah in his letter, Mr Pant said he would reply only after studying them. He said there was no discussion with the emissaries on the contents of the letter.

Noting that Mr Shah had involved people of all regions in discussions on the Centre’s offer for the dialogue, Mr Pant said it was definitely a good move.

Hoping that talks would start soon with the PDFP leaders, he said the people of the state wanted normalcy and peace. He said there was tremendous response to the peace process.

Mr Pant, who has met former Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Syed Mir Qasim and human right activist Balraj Puri, said he met people from the state daily and discussed with them suggestions for bringing about peace in the state.

Maulana Tari later said that the letter given to Mr Pant dealt with four important issues.

Referring to his party’s demand to involve Pakistan in the talks, he said bilateralism had not worked. The two countries had signed many agreements, but the dispute had not been resolved. He said Kashmir was not a law and order problem but a political issue.

The two-member JKDFP team arrived in the Capital despite threats from some militant groups. Shah had said in Srinagar yesterday that he was ready for one-to-one talks with the Centre’s negotiator if there was a positive response to his communication.


8 killed in poll clashes

Kolkata, May 3
Eight persons were killed in clashes that took place in West Bengal and Karnataka in connection with assembly polls.

At least five persons were killed in a clash between the supporters of two political groups near Canning in South 24-Parganas district today.

Official sources said senior police officials, along with a posse of police force, had rushed to the spot. Tension was running high in the locality following the incident. Details were awaited.

BANGALORE: Another Congress worker was killed in political violence hours before the urban local bodies elections began in Karnataka today, police sources said.

The sources said the victim, Nagaraj, was allegedly attacked by a group of BJP workers in Bellary last night following an altercation, leading to his death. Another Congress worker received injuries, they added.

One person had been killed in a clash between two rival groups of Congress workers in Chitradurga on May 1.

The police had beefed up security arrangements for the elections to 148 urban local bodies, deploying 80 platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police. Agencies

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