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We are not running away from talks: Hurriyat

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
February 21, 2006 16:35 IST
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All Party Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on Tuesday denied the Congress's charge that the organisation is shirking away from talks with the government.

The APHC on Sunday declined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation asking all political parties to join a round table conference on Kashmir on February 25.

"There is no question of us running away from the talks. We are committed to talk to the governments of India and Pakistan. But the time has not yet come for such a round table conference," Farooq told on phone from Srinagar.

In any case, "I have broken my right ankle and hence I'll have it in a cast for at least two weeks," he added.

He also charged the government with breaking its promise to hold consultations with the APHC and other separatist leaders.

"What is the point of talking to those who have accepted Kashmir's accession. We are the ones who are disputing the accession. Hence it makes sense to talk to us. We do not mind the government inviting leaders like Sajjad Lone and Yasin Malik, but why talk to those who have nothing to do with Kashmir," he said.

Asked whether the points of view of such people were not important, Farooq said, "Maybe for the government. But their stand is well known and is favourable to the government," he said.

He claimed that the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference had taken the biggest risk of their lives by talking to the Indian government.

"You know we were called Bikaoo... we were called stooges of the Indian government... my uncle was killed, my school was set on fire and my house was bombed.

We had stuck our necks out and now they find it convenient to ignore us. Why?" he said.

He alleged that till February, the government had not implemented even a single promise made to the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference in September.

"We were told that the list of the political detainees would be made and action taken to ensure that they are freed at the earliest.

"Likewise, a number of other promises were made, but did the government follow it up with action?" he said.

He admitted that Union Minister Saifuddin Soz has been in constant touch with the Hurriyat leaders but claimed ignorance about the PM calling the round table conference. "We had no clue. Nobody consulted us on this subject," Mirwaiz said.

He said the government initiative showed that it was not sincere while holding talks with the separatist leaders.

"I am asserting once again that there is no question of Hurriyat Conference running away from the talks. But it would be no use joining the conference where hundred-odd people would be speaking out in different voices and giving their considered opinion," he said.


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Onkar Singh in New Delhi