Separatist Bhat Meets PDP's Mufti, Stirs Political Storm

1 January 2015
The Hindustan Times
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Senior moderate Hurriyat leader Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat has met People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at latter's residence in Srinagar in a rare mainstream-separatist leaders' dialogue, fuelling speculation that moderate separatists oppose any government formation with the BJP. 'If two friends meet, is it an issue? Mufti and me were class fellows since college days,' Bhat told the media in response to his meeting with Sayeed recently. Otherwise baying for each others' blood, Sayeed's meeting with Bhat assumes significance in the wake of the stalemate over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, where PDP with 28 seats and BJP with 25 seats continue to struggle to form government even a week after results were declared on December 23. It's reliably learnt that Bhat has expressed his apprehensions over the BJP forming any government, first time ever, in Muslim-majority state. Though Bhat refused it was a political meeting with Sayeed. 'Agendas cannot be discussed individually. If it was just a meeting it could have nothing beyond a meeting,' said Bhat. Bhat's group Muslim Conference is a constituent of moderate Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. To avoid controversy, Bhat reiterated the Hurriyat stand on Kashmir. 'Polls and formation of the new government can in no way affect the veracity of Kashmir issue,' said Bhat. 'Snakes can marry rats and bulls chase lizards, anything can happen with reference to the formation of the government but at present we can say let us not count stars which lie beyond,' he added. Bhat's meeting has come as a major embarrassment for the moderate Hurriyat with both its spokesman Shahid-ul-Islam and chairman Mirwaiz refuting to comment on the meeting. The coming days are bound to see war of words between factions of Hurriyats over the meeting. In the past too, Bhat stirred controversies when he claimed UN resolutions on Kashmir were not practical and accused separatists only for the assassination of Mirwaiz Maulana Farooq. However, the fact remains that there is growing opposition in separatist camp against regional parties allying with the BJP to form government after fractured mandate in the assembly polls. 'We will fight tooth and nail against any communal attempt to erode special status of J-K or change its demography. Sayeed tying up with BJP shows his lust for power,' said senior moderate leader Shabir Ahmad Shah.