Mufti to go ahead with release of prisoners
13 November 2002
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Unfazed by criticism of parties like BJP on the release on political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Wednesday said that his government would go ahead with releasing all political prisoners in the state to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue. ''It is a matter of our policy and common minimum programme to release all the political prisoners in the state, which we are bound to implement. We have initiated the process and it will go on,'' Sayeed told reporters in Srinagar when asked if he would continue with the release of the prisoners following Malik''s comments daring Sayeed to contest an election with him to test his popularity in the valley. Defending the release of political prisoners, Sayeed said, ''Democracy is a battle of ideas. Let them (political prisoners) come out and put forth their point of view and we will put ours.'' ''We want to create an atmosphere conducive for a dialogue.We live in a democratic country and we have just had free and fair elections in the state,'' Sayeed said. He, however, parried a direct question on the date for release of firebrand Jammat-E-Islami leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, saying all cases were being reviewed and releases would be effected only after the the process is completed. The BJP on Tuesday attacked Sayeed''s move to release political prisoners saying that their release ''would send a negative signal and undermine the entire effort to fight insurgency and terror.''