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Hizbul needs to be involved in talks: Mehbooba

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
September 21, 2005 18:58 IST
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Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People's Democratic Party, has asked the government of India to hold talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen and give them an opportunity to join the mainstream. She however maintained that there was nothing new in what she had said during her interaction with the media in Srinagar on Tuesday.

"Someone asked me if those holding the gun should be involved in the peace process. I in response said that it would be proper. Since Hizbul Mujahideen comprises of Kashmiri boys, they should also be involved in this process. After all, Hizbul had declared ceasefire in August 2000 and held talks with the government of India representatives in Srinagar, but it could not be carried out and the initiative was abandoned mid-way through," she told on phone from Srinagar.

She welcomed the 'heart to heart talks' between the Kashmiris on either side of the two Kashmirs in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday. "Bhim Singh, one of the organisers, had invited us to participate in the deliberations, but because of pre-occupation neither the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed nor I could attend it," she said.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said that he was in not a position to comment on the comment of Mufti as he had not seen the text of the comment. "When I say something it becomes a view of the National Conference. I cannot have my own personal view," he said when newsmen asked him to react to Mufti's statement.

Sardar Mohammed Abdul Qayyum Khan, former president and prime minister of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, welcomed Mufti's statement, but hastened to add that what she had said is not new. "World over, talks and insurgency go on at the same time," he said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi