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July 28, 1999
Mufti floats new regional party in Kashmir
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Former Union home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today launched his own regional party in the state to "persuade the Government of India to initiate an unconditional dialogue with Kashmiris for resolution of the Kashmir problem".
After a day-long workers' meeting at his heavily guarded house, the mufti was unanimously elected the first president of the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party.
Later, addressing a press conference, Sayeed said his party would field candidates from all six parliamentary constituencies in the state. "My party will try to convince the Government of India that bullets are no answer to the Kashmiri problems and serious negotiations are needed to solve them," he said.
He said the ruling National Conference "has lost popular support in the Valley and that is why a regional alternative is needed". The National Conference government, he said, has "failed to provide a healing touch to the Kashmiris who suffered immensely. He said that his party would fight for the restoration of complete autonomy to the state.''
He also said it would mobilise "public opinion in the state and country in favour of persuading the Government of India to adopt a policy of understanding and reconciliation and initiate a comprehensive and unconditional dialogue" with the people of Kashmir to resolve the Kashmir problem.
"My party will find ways and means to ensure that innocent people languishing in jails are released, migrants are brought back and rehabilitated, and the healing touch is administered to the victims of the violent turmoil in the state," the former Congressman said.
He said his party "will advocate the formulation and implementation of proper policies for devolution of powers and distribution of resources among the three regions of the state, equitable economic growth, and advancement of understanding and co-operation among the various communities and regions".
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