Interlocutors meet Abbas Ansari

Srinagar: Interlocutors appointed by the Centre for Jammu and Kashmir met senior separatist leader Maulana Abbas Ansari here on April 20. Ansari has shown his willingness to enter into a dialogue with Union government provided some confidence-building measures are taken.  Chief interlocutor Dileep Padgaonkar said here that Ansari, chairman of Tehreek-ul-Muslemeen and executive council member of Hurriyat Conference (M) during an hour-long meeting said that perceptible changes on ground are imperative to inculcate a spirit in the trust of state.  “He said he favoured talks with Government of India to arrive at a peaceful settlement. It had to be held at an appropriate level with representatives of separatist groups and in the presence of interlocutors,” said Padgaonkar, adding that the meeting was arranged by an intermediary. He said “Ansari emphasized that government should initially focus on the four-point agenda of Hurriyat (M).” He stated that the separatist leader hoped that government would allow Hurriyat (M) to visit Pakistan to persuade authorities, as well as leaders in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Jammu and northern areas to take them on board to work for a settlement that would satisfy all stakeholders. “The primary stakeholders, he said, are people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control.” In response to a question, Padgaonkar said “better sense would prevail upon other separatist leaders and they would join the dialogue process.” Referring to the two-day Round Table Conference, he said around 50 participants including academia, civil society, political parties and media participated. “They emphasized their commitment to democracy, rule of law and respect for pluralism. They rejected use of violence, religious extremism, regional chauvinism and hegemonic ambitions of any community to attain political ends. They sought compensation for river waters and hydel power flowing out of the state.”

Prof. Radha Kumar said given re-deployment of security forces in the state it is important that these people are taken on board while arriving at any solution to the Kashmir issue, adding that they too are stake holders in the issue.

However, Hurriyat Conference (M) led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq suspended Itihaad-ul-Muslimeen from its fold after interlocutors met Ansari. Ansari while maintaining his ‘innocence’ said that interlocutors dropped at his residence without informing him. He said “Hurriyat Conference has already taken a stand not to meet interlocutors. Our party stands by that.” Meanwhile, scores of Ansari’s supporters took to the streets in Mirgund-Pattan, Baramulla on April 21 asking Mirwaiz to reconsider his decision.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 15

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