Govt hawks standing in PM’s way - Hurriyat
21 January 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference today claimed that 'hardline elements' within the Government are derailing the peace process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by making such an issue of the release of travel documents for its trip to Pakistan. Today's meeting of the Hurriyat executive committee was held amid anger and mourning for two 'custodial killings' by the state police in two consecutive days, one of them a Hurriyat activist Mushtaq Ahamd Bhat, who was allegedly picked up from his residence late last evening and later killed in a 'fake encounter.' All executive members, except Syed Ali Shah Geelani, attended the seven-hour-long meeting at the Hurriyat headquarters. 'The Hurriyat wants to tell the international community that the processinitiated by Prime Minister Vajpayee through a unilateral ceasefire, theresponse that Hurriyat be allowed to visit Pakistan to take forward theprocess and create a conducive atmosphere is being sabatoged by the hardlineleaders within Government of India, who are hellbent to create hurdles inthe resolution of the problem and the restoration of peace,' a statementissued by the conglomerate later said. Calling the recent statements made by Union Home minister L K Advani ashawkish and with dangerous consequences, the release said: 'TheHurriyat wants to make it clear that the issue of release of traveldocuments is the sole prerogative of the Government of India and that (we) will not insist on it because getting the travel documents isn't the sole aim of Hurriyat.' 'If the attitude of the Indian leadership becomes a hurdle in the peace process,' the Hurriyat said, 'the responsibility for its collapse will entirely lie with the Government of India.' Earlier, JKLF chief Yasin Malik, who is also one of the members of the executive committee, asked Prime minister Vajpayee to take afirm approach to push forward the peace initiative. 'It was Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee's personal initiative but his colleagues were bentupon to sabotage it,' he told The Indian Express. 'Advani, FarooqAbdullah and George Fernandes have been playing a very dirty role and timewill only decide whether Vajpayee will be able to exert himself or sucumbbefore Advani and company,' he said. Meanwhile, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat's family made the rounds of the PoliceControl Room (PCR) to retrieve his body. 'They refused to hand it over to us in the daylight. They want nobody to see what they have done to him,' said Abdul Majeed, Bhat's elder brother. Bhat's killing, like driver Bilal Ahmed's, has two contradictory versions. The police claim he was part of the militant group that attacked a Special Operations Group (SOG) team at Babademb in the city and was killed in retaliation but the family has a altogether different story to tell. 'It was around 7.30 pm, he had just returned home. Policemen, who had scaled the wall after finding the entrance closed and knocked at our door. They told us they will take him becuase their officer wants to speak to him,' Majeed said as dozens of women relatives were crying hysterically in the compound. 'In fact my brother knew few among the police party and he even shook hands with them. He was not scared at all and as he left with them, he told me they were from Cargo (the headquaters of Special Operations Group, Srinagar).' Bhat, a 30-year-old science graduate, was released two and half years ago for being affiliated with Al-Umar and Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfits. 'He had joined the Muslim League and was working at the Hurriyat Conference office. he had nothing to do with militancy and was completely over-ground,' Majeed said. The Police however is stressing that he was never picked up at all. 'I amcent percent sure that nobody picked him up. He attacked our party, openedfire and threw grenades on our party and got killed in retaliation,'Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range A K Bhan said.