Wednesday, March 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Vohra arrives today
Our Correspondent

Jammu, March 4
While the All-Party Hurriyat Conference is still undecided on holding talks with the Centre’s interlocutor, Mr N.N. Vohra is arriving here tomorrow on a two-day visit.

The Chief Minister, Mr Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said in the Assembly today that Mr Vohra was arriving tomorrow, to the utter disbelief of members of the National Conference, who wanted to know what modalities the negotiator would adopt in his interaction with the elected representatives and others. The NC also wanted to know whether or not Mr Vohra had been given the brief for holding talks with the Hurriyat leaders and militants.

The CM evaded a direct reply on the nature of the dialogue Mr Vohra intended to begin. Since Mr Vhora has been given the status of Cabinet Secretary, senior government officials will receive him at the airport. Mr Vohra is to meet the Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, the Chief Minister and several other senior government leaders simply to know the latest political and security situations in the state.

Sources said, during his stay here, Mr Vohra would discuss with senior government functionaries certain preliminaries for meeting persons who were not members of the state legislature. As far as interaction with the elected representatives is concerned, Mr Vohra will have no problem meeting them separately or in groups. He would be on test once he visited Srinagar, where he would have to explore all ways of drawing separatist leaders to the negotiating table.

When Mr K.C. Pant was appointed the Centre’s chief negotiator last year, his mission failed because the Hurriyat leaders had refused to meet him. The separatist who had met him were of no importance.

The CM said today that no precondition was to be imposed for the dialogue to begin. The talks are expected to be different from the Beg-Parthasarthy talks of the early 1970s that had resulted in the 1975 Sheikh-Indira Accord.

Sheikh Abdullah was in favour of a plebiscite, then, but, this time, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is different. Prolonged militancy has made Mr Vohra’s task tougher, with some separatist leaders seeking the involvement of Islamabad in trilateral parleys.

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