Both Hurriyat factions distance themselves from poll process
23 February 2004
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India
Srinagar: Rival factions of the Hurriyat on Monday distanced themselves from the election process in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was not a solution to the long-standing problem and could not be an alternative to the right to 'self determination'. Hurriyat Conference has never believed that elections can be a solution to the vexed issue of Kashmir, a statement released by the conglomerate led by Maulana Abbas Ansari said. However, the faction, which entered into a dialogue with the Centre last month, reiterated its stand that the issue could be solved through dialogue. It said New Delhi's coming to the negotiating table must be taken as a welcome development for which the credit goes to the Hurriyat (Ansari), adding the sacrifices of thousands of people would not be allowed to go waste. In a separate statement, rival faction of the Hurriyat led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said the 'so-called elections, autonomy or transfer of power was not an alternative to the right of self determination'. He flayed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for taking credit for Indo-Pak dialogue. The statement said 'the long standing dispute of Kashmir had entered a vital phase and that time was not far when the issue would be resolved as per the aspirations of the people of the state'. Meanwhile, senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah has called for complete boycott of the upcoming Parliamentary elections.