We will not participate in polls until conditions met: Shah
30 August 2002
The Times of India
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: Separatist leader Shabir Shah on Friday said that he would not be participating in the forthcoming Jammu and Kashmir elections although he agreed, in principle, with Prime Minister Vajpayee that only elections can throw up the true representatives of the people. However, when asked categoriclly if he would participate in the forthcoming elections, Shah said ''We don''t shy away from the democratic exercise but it seems that the coming elections are aimed only at giving an extension to the Farooq Abdullah regime in the state.'' Shah, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), put seven conditions as ''confidence building measures'' to ensure ''participation in free and fair and meaningful elections'', following his second round of talks with the Kashmir Committee led by Ram Jethmalani and comprising Shanti Bhushan, Dileep Padgaonkar, M J Akbar and other noted citizens. LIST OF DEMANDS • Release of those persons who have been illegally-unfairly jailed; • Honourable and dignified return of migrants; • Greater accountability of the Special Operation Group and other anti- insurgency groups; • End of custodial killings; • Speedy trial of those jailed of petty offences; • Constitution of a commission to probe custodial killings and disappearance of persons; and • Facilitation of intra-Kashmir dialogue. Later, Shah also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. A statement released by the committee at the end of the two-day talks said that the seven conditions sought by Shah are release of those persons who have been illegally-unfiarly jailed; honourable and dignified return of migrants; greater accountability of the J&K police''s Special Operations Group and other anti- insurgency groups; end of custodial killings; speedy trial of those jailed for petty offences; constitution of a commission to probe custodial killings and disappearance of persons; and facilitation of an intra-Kashmir dialogue. The committee claimed that ''in principle'' Shah had agreed to participate in the elections. Shah ''was never against such a participation since he had always been committed to the democratic process'' and so JKDFP ''wholeheartedly agreed with Prime Minister Vajpayee that elections alone can identify the true representatives of the people of the state for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue,'' the statement said. It was decided that the Kashmir Committee and the JKDFP would continue to work in partnership till ''the talks reach their logical conclusion''. The talks began early in the morning after Thursday night''s talks remained inconclusive. Other who participated in the talks included V K Grover, Javed Laiq and committee convener Ashok Bhan. The JKDFP was represented by Shah, Abdul Salam Rather, Salim Geelani, Abdullah Tari, Sardar Harbans Singh Khalsa and G M Sheikh. Talking to reporters, Shah criticised the Centre saying it did not have a concrete policy on Kashmir and said the ball was in the Centre''s court and it was for it to take a decision on the seven confidence- building measures specified by his party. ''We are not asking anything which cannot be done and we hope that doves in the central leadership will emerge victorious,'' he said. To a question whether the committee was still hopeful of postponement of the elections, Jethmalani said ''There is a Supreme Court guideline which stated that elections could be reviewed till the polls actually do not take place.'' He said ''We will be talking to the Centre and try to bring out some solution.''