Tuesday, December 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India




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No talks with bureaucrats: APHC
Jammu, December 10
Though the Government of India has announced its ignorance about a core group having been constituted to hold talks with the separatists in the Kashmir valley, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership has conveyed its unwillingness to enter into a dialogue with bureaucrats. The APHC chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, said, “We have no knowledge about the core group. We have not been approached. But we will not hold talks at the bureaucratic level.”

Six die as van skids off road
Jammu, December 10
Six persons were killed and several others were injured when a van skidded off the road and fell on the banks of the Chenab at Ramban in Doda district this morning, the police said.

Lawyers during a protest demonstration organised by the Kashmir Bar Association on Human Rights Day in Srinagar on Monday. The association and other Srinagar-based lawyers took out a procession protesting against the alleged human rights violation by government agencies in Kashmir.
— Photo Amin War


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No talks with bureaucrats: APHC
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 10
Though the Government of India has announced its ignorance about a core group having been constituted to hold talks with the separatists in the Kashmir valley, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership has conveyed its unwillingness to enter into a dialogue with bureaucrats.

The APHC chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, said, “We have no knowledge about the core group. We have not been approached. But we will not hold talks at the bureaucratic level.”

In fact, the APHC leadership is peeved over a news agency report which had disclosed that a core group headed by Mr K.C. Pant, government’s chief negotiator, would include some senior officials of Indian intelligence agencies, the Home Ministry and other leaders of political parties.

The APHC leaders had made it clear when Mr Pant reached Srinagar last summer to hold talks with the separatists that they would hold talks provided the group was upgraded with the inclusion of a couple of Central ministers. Professor Bhat had, at that stage, shown preference for the Prime Minister to initiate a dialogue with them.

Professor Bhat has stated that the Government of India “is totally non-serious in holding talks with connected parties for the settlement of the Kashmir issue.” He has said that after Mr Pant’s “failure to open a dialogue with the right persons” the Government of India remained silent for all these months and suddenly a report was circulated through a news agency that a core group had been constituted for holding talks “with us.”

He and others in the APHC said that during the past over eight months the Government of India has turned a deaf ear towards “our suggestion for allowing a Hurriyat team to visit Pakistan where it could hold talks with government functionaries and leaders of militant and separatist outfits.” This suggestion was turned down and the result was that the Kashmir issue remained alive without any hope of an early settlement.

The APHC leadership has reiterated that the Government of India “cannot ignore the reality of Pakistan being a party to the dispute and that makes it mandatory for Delhi to discuss the issue with Islamabad and the representatives of the people in the Kashmir valley.”

Inside reports said notwithstanding the denial, the Government of India is keen to resume direct or indirect contacts with the APHC leaders and separatists who are out of the fold of the 23-party conglomerate. But the APHC leaders fear peoples’ wrath and displeasure of Islamabad if they enter into negotiations with the government without the participation of Islamabad.

According to these reports, the Government of India is being persuaded by some Kashmir experts to persuade separatists to take part in the next Assembly poll which would give political legitimacy to the election. In the absence of participation from the separatists the poll would look like a one-sided affair and voters’ participation may also be limited.

A couple of Kashmir experts within the valley, who wished to remain unidentified, have stated that the time is ripe for the Government of India to resume talks with Pakistan and that, too, with the assistance of the US Government. These experts are of the view that though Pakistan is under tremendous presence as a result of the internal fluid political situation and on account of the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, yet India could cash in on it by forcing Islamabad to adopt a flexible attitude on Kashmir.

According to these experts, the Government of India can secure US support on a two-point formulla. First, the Centre can accept the demand for the restoration of greater autonomy and once it is done a big section of people in the Kashmir valley will feel that they have achieved something.

Secondly, Pakistan can be told to accept some border adjustments so that Islamabad can gain control of some border villages to same its face. Once Islamabad accepts it, Pakistan can be told to keep the Kashmir issue under the carpet for a period of 10 years and till then ministerial and bureaucratic groups could be constituted for resolving other bilateral problems, especially those connected with trade and travel.

Once Pakistan accepted some border adjustments the new alignment on the LoC can be treated as a permanent border for a period of 10 years. The next 10 years may remove mistrust and hostility between the two sides. 
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Six die as van skids off road

Jammu, December 10
Six persons were killed and several others were injured when a van skidded off the road and fell on the banks of the Chenab at Ramban in Doda district this morning, the police said.

It said the overloaded van was going to Batote from Ramban.

The driver lost control while negotiating a sharp turn on a small hillock and the van skidded off the road and fell on the banks of the Chenab, killing six persons on the spot. UNI
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