Geelani Attacks Centre-Ansari Talks
30 January 2004
The Times of India
Srinagar: Hardline Hurriyat faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani attacked the Maulana Mohammed Abbas Ansari faction of the Hurriyat saying that they are sending out signals that India has shed its 'traditional stubborn stand on Kashmir and is sincere in resolving the 56-year- old issue.' Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and the Hurriyat leaders met in New Delhi last week and agreed to 'ensure that all forms of violence should come to end' and that 'the role of the gun should be replaced by the sound of politics.' The two sides also talked of initiating a 'step-by-step' approach to resolve 'all outstanding issues.' Even Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had said in an interview to BBC recently that New Delhi and Islamabad would 'have to meet somewhere midway' and show flexibility in resolving the Kashmir issue. All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a conglomerate of 25 separatist groups suffered a split in September 2003, after hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a Jamiat-e-Islami leader formed a separate Hurriyat conference with the support of 15 separatist groups. Geelani, who is enjoying support of several pro- Pakistan militant groups besides patronage of Pakistan government, has opposed the recently held talks between Ansari-led Hurriyat and the Centre. Geelani alleged that there was no end to the human rights abuses by the Forces. 'Those who project the Indian Prime Minister as a big sympathiser of Kashmiris should tell us how the drastic change has come about in the PM,' he said. Reacting to Geelani's statement, Ansari Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is also a senior clergyman in the Kashmir Valley , said: 'PM Vajpayee's recent peace efforts are the indication of the visible change in him. Geelani should be optimistic about the talks.'