February 2003 News

Mufti May Face Pressure To Act Against Hurriyat

8 February 2003
The Asian Age

New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir government is likely to come under pressure from the Centre to initiate action against leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. The 'evidence' gathered by the Delhi police after arresting the alleged Hurriyat woman activist outside the Pakistani high commission now points a direct finger towards Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat, who is being credited as the go-between who arranged her meeting with Pakistan envoy Jalil Abbas Jilani. Deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, who has always opposed talks between the Centre and the Hurriyat, has declared an offensive against the 'pro-Pakistan' leaders although all of them have come on record to deny their links with Islamabad. Mr Bhat has dismissed the charges as 'ridiculous.' JKLF leader Yasin Malik, who was jailed for eight months on similar charges of money-laundering, is also categorical that 'all this is cooked up.' Mirwaiz Omar Farooq is of the view that the pressure is because of the forthcoming elections in the states. Mr Malik was released by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed shortly after assuming power with the move creating considerable bad blood between Srinagar and New Delhi. Mr Sayeed sorted this out through a meeting with Mr Advani and, interestingly, there have been no further releases of political prisoners. The Hurriyat has just begun an agitation for the release of the Jamaat-e-Islami's Syed Ali Shah Geelani, currently undergoing treatment in Mumbai. Mr Sayeed has been particularly keen to ensure talks between the elected representatives, the separatists and the Centre. However, it is unlikely that he will be able to succeed in this in the near future with sources pointing out that he might well find himself trying to walk the tightrope between the Centre and the Hurriyat as pressure mounts for their arrests. Mirwaiz Farooq, who was always regarded as the moderate voice in the conglomerate by the Prime Minister's Office, now finds himself without a passport to travel out of India. He had been representing the Hurriyat at various international conferences over the past few years.


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