Saturday, November 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Jethmalani meets separatist leaders
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 22
Mr Ram Jethmalani, head of the six-member Kashmir Committee, said here today that Kashmir dispute needed to be resolved through negotiations.

He was talking to mediapersons after a three-hour meeting with a senior separatist leader and chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party here today afternoon. The committee has also started negotiations with senior leaders of the Hurriyat Conference. Both the APHC and the DFP earlier also held several rounds of negotiations with the Kashmir Committee for finding a solution to the Kashmir problem.

Earlier, Mr Jethmalani arrived here today afternoon from New Delhi on the committee’s second visit to Jammu and Kashmir. The committee visited the state in August prior to the election to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. During its last visit the committee had demanded the postponement of the elections to create an atmosphere for the involvement of more “disgruntled elements” in the elections. The elections were held as scheduled in which at least 12 candidates of the newly-evolved Kashmir Resolution Movement participated. The committee had failed to involve the Hurriyat Conference, a conglomeration of 23 separatist groups, to participate in the Assembly elections.

Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Ahmad Shah who held talks with the visiting Kashmir Committee members, was accompanied by his 24 associates. They included Prof G.M. Sheikh, Ghulam Nabi Hagroo, Mohammad Amin Bhat and Moulana Abdullah Tahiri. Later Shabir Shah told The Tribune that he had urged the committee to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations, in which all three parties could be involved, thereby giving credence to the Hurriyat’s stand on tripartite talks to resolve the Kashmir issue. A joint statement over the issues discussed at today’s meeting between the DFP leaders and the Kashmir Committee would be issued tomorrow, Shabir Shah said.

Later in the evening, the committee started negotiations with leaders of Hurriyat Conference. Except for JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik, one of the seven executive members of the APHC, were present in the meeting held at the residence of founder APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Malik was opposed to talks between the APHC and the Kashmir Committee led by Mr Jethmalani.

Other APHC members who met Kashmir Committee members included Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Moulana Abbas Ansari, Ali Mohammad Sheikh of Jamaat-c-Islami, Hafeezullah Makhdoomi of the Peoples Conference and Mohammad Khaleel of the Peoples League. Two executive members, Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Sheikh Abdul Aziz of the People League were presently under detention.

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