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J&K: Separatist groups get feelers for talks with PM

January 16, 2006 17:21 IST
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The Centre has sent "feelers" to several separatist leaders in Srinagar that they would soon be invited for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even as "back channel" negotiations to rope in more and more secessionists in the ongoing dialogue process on Kashmir have also gained momentum.

Well-placed sources told UNI that "smaller players" such as Democratic Liberation Party chief Hashim Qureshi, People's Political Party chairman Hilal Ahmed War and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Forum president Javed Mir have been contacted by the Centre's "unofficial" interlocutors and informed that they will soon be invited for talks with the prime minister.

They said the Centre, on its part to broaden the spectrum of the ongoing dialogue process outside the moderate Hurriyat Conference fold, has almost finalised the dates of talks between the prime minister and Democratic Freedom Party president Shabir Shah, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik and representatives of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Dr Singh has already held talks with Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Ghani Lone in New Delhi on January 14.

In this regard, senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz has held several rounds of talks with many separatist leaders in Srinagar and prepared the groundwork for their meeting with the prime minister.

Incidentally, it was Soz who brokered the much-awaited talks between Dr Singh and moderate Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi in September 2005.

The sources said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has also played a vital and significant role in the Centre's decision to broaden the ambit of the ongoing dialogue process.

He had repeatedly impressed upon the Centre to hold talks with separatist leaders outside the Hurriyat Conference fold and emphasised that the amalgam was not the sole representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they added.

The sources said Azad had told the Centre that there are several "other players -- both big and small" who have a major role in the resolution of the vexed Kashmir issue and could also help in restoration of peace and normalcy in the strife-torn state.

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Source: source