Moderate Hurriyat faction rejects participation in Kashmir polls (Lead)

May 21st, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ali G

Srinagar, May 21 (IANS) The moderate faction of Jammu and Kashmir’s separatist Hurriyat Conference Wednesday said it would not be participating in the forthcoming state elections. “Elections have been held here by India since 1947, but these have not solved the Kashmir problem in the past nor would they help solve this problem in the future,” head of the faction, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, told a large crowd of supporters gathered at the Eidgah grounds to commemorate the 18th death anniversary of his father, the late Mirwaiz Maulana Muhammad Farooq.

The moderate Hurriyat Conference had called for a shutdown Wednesday to mark the death anniversaries of not just Kashmir’s chief priest Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq but also Abdul Gani Lone. Gunmen had shot and killed Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq in 1990 inside his house at Nageen in city outskirts.

On the same day in 2002, Peoples Conference chairperson Abdul Gani Lone was killed by suspected separatist guerrillas during a rally to observe the 12th anniversary of the death of the late Mirwaiz at Eidgah.

Government offices, educational institutions, banks and shops in the capital city were shut. Reports from other towns said the call evoked partial to complete response Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Mirwaiz Umer welcomed the foreign minister level talks between India and Pakistan.

“We welcome the present foreign minister level talks between India and Pakistan and also welcome the restoration of good relations between the two countries.

“But, so far as the Kashmir problem is concerned, it has three parties which include the people here. In all parleys aimed at the resolution of the dispute, it is imperative that the people of Kashmir are involved.”

He wanted India-Pakistan prime minister level talks to be held in Kashmir. “I invite the Indian prime minister and the Pakistan prime minister to come to Kashmir and hold deliberations about resolution of Kashmir dispute here.

“The other rounds should be held in Muzaffarabad, Delhi and Islamabad.”

The Mirwaiz welcomed the arrival of tourists in the valley and said the revival of tourism was part of the local economy.

He also said that the government should show flexibility by releasing detainees who had been languishing in jails for long.

In order to forge unity among the separatist ranks, he invited senior hardline separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, Muhammad Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference to join the moderate Hurriyat fold.

“Let us be as united today as we were in 1993 when the Hurriyat Conference was formed here.”

Speaking about the participations of the mainstream political parties in parleys aimed at resolution of the Kashmir problem, he said: “They are welcome to participate in such talks. We are ready to forgive, but we cannot forget that their hands are smeared with the blood of the innocent people of Kashmir”.

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