More Hurriyat leaders may be released
21 April 2000
Times of India
New Delhi: The release of more jailed Hurriyat leaders is on the cards with the Union home ministry evaluating the pros and cons of such a move from the standpoint of creating the right atmosphere for a political solution to the Kashmir problem. Home ministry officials on Friday discussed a proposal to release the 27-odd jailed Hurriyat leaders. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah had discussed the issue with Union home minister L K Advani here on Thursday. Sources said the discussions within the ministry centred around the fallout the release of the jailed leaders - who include Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik and his aide Javed Mir - would have on the law and order situation in the state. Although the release of the remaining Hurriyat leaders is formally in the hands of the state government, the Union home ministry is involved in the larger issue of finding a political solution to the problem in the state. In this respect, the Intelligence Bureau is playing a key role. The home ministry is processing a detailed input from the IB regarding the political background of each detained Hurriyat leader and what impact their release will have at the local level. On April 3, the government freed three Hurriyat leaders - Syed Ali Shah Gilani, Abdul Gani Lone and Maulana Abbas Ansari - from Jodhpur jail where they had been in detention for over a year. ''Obviously, the government cannot hold talks with just three released leaders. Those in detention might not agree with the solution worked out by the freed leaders,'' a senior government functionary, who did not want to be named, said. On Thursday, chief minister Abdullah had hinted at the early release of the rest of the jailed leaders and had denied reports that he was opposed to holding talks with them. He had, however, declined to divulge the precise timing of their release. ''Any move aimed at bringing peace in Kashmir is welcome. We will release all of them provided they realise that the separatist movement has caused irreparable loss to Kashmir,'' he had told reporters.