Kashmiri Pandits, Muslims meet for first time in 13 years
30 March 2002
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: In a significant event, leaders of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims on Saturday came face-to-face for the first time in 13 years since the eruption of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in a ''new initiative'' aimed at ''rebuilding'' the inter-community trust.Participating in a conference here, leaders of the two communities, including senior Hurriyat leader Maulvi Umar Farooq, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) president Shabir Shah and All India Kashmiri Pandit Conference chief H N Jattu, pleaded for ''forgetting the past'' and moving forward as they shared their grievances regarding each other.The leaders were agreed that a divide had been created between the two communities which had lived together in the valley for centuries.''History bears testimony to the fact that rulers make people fight,'' said Shabir Shah at the conference on ''Search for a balanced Kashmir policy'' organised by Displaced Kashmiri People''s United Front co-convenors Ashok Kak and Bashir Ahmed Wani.Alleging that a ''conspiracy'' was behind the creation of the divide, Shah stressed that ''something'' needed to be done to bridge it and more of such conferences could be a great help.Umar Farooq termed Saturday''s conference, bringing together leaders of the two communities, as a ''good beginning'' and favoured frequent such meets.