February 2002 News

Hurriyat Conference sets up parallel EC

12 February 2002
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: Dispelling speculation about participating in the forthcoming assembly elections, the Hurriyat Conference, an amalgam of 23 separatist groups, on Tuesday nominated six members, including two co- chairmen, for their own election commission. The members, whose names were announced by the Hurriyat chairman, included Tapan Bose, human rights activist from India, Sajjad Ali Shah, retired chief justice of Pakistan, Ved Bhasin, a Jammu-based journalist, Zafar Mehdi, a medical practitioner from Kashmir, Siddiq Wahid, a Ladakhi scholar and Raja Kursheed, retired chief justice of PoK. The Hurriyat announcement some two weeks ago about constituting its own election commission had created ripples in political circles. All the seven executive members had denied the reports of the conglomerate participating in the forthcoming assembly elections.To a question, Abdul Gani Bhat, chairman All Party Hurriyat Conference, said a poll rule book would be out soon to govern the polls to determine the representative character of the conglomerate. He said any citizen of the state, including the PoK, could participate in the elections.Asked whether the members'' consent had been sought before announcing the names, Bhat answered in the affirmative.According to a senior home ministry official, the conglomerate is yet to convey its willingness to enter into the political mainstream. He said talks with Hurriyat leaders have not made any headway. Hurriyat leaders were being dissuaded from participating in the assembly elections by certain forces within and outside the state, he added. He said there were about 2,500 foreign militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir, whose presence prevented the Hurriyat leaders from declaring their minds publicly.Related stories Govt rejects Hurriyat''s parallel EC  J&K major test for Hurriyat BJP


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