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Home > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/Moulvi Abbas Ansari

July 09, 2004

On July 6,Moulvi Abbas Ansari resigned as chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, comprising various pro-secession Kashmiri parties, irked at the differences within the conglomeration.

In Delhi -- to be with his grandson who is undergoing treatment for kidney failure in a city hospital -- Ansari told Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh in an exclusive interview that he was willing to reconsider his resignation but had some conditions.

Why did you resign?

I have not resigned per se. What I have done is asked Mirwaiz Umer Farooq to take over asacting chairman. Until two months ago, the Government of India was talking only to us, but later, (then)prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said they would talk to other parties as well.

I felt the government had lost its sincerity. I also felt that if we were to carry forward our process of dialogue, then we should unite amongst ourselves and bring into the Hurriyat those leaders who have so far stayed so that we can all talk in one voice with the Government of India.

Did you invite people like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who wants to chair the Hurriyat, and Shabbir Shah to join you in the talks?

We have made an offer to (Shabbir) Shahsaheb to join our delegation and had told him that we would drop one of our five members to give him space. But he did not accept our offer. He is of the view that we should not have held talks with the Government of India at all.

As far as Geelani is concerned, he is not chairman of the breakaway group of the APHC as he is normally referred to in the media. His own party, the Jamaat, has expelled him from the party and it is the Jamaat that is a constituent of Hurriyat Conference.

Geelani would have to either rejoin the Jamaat or float a new outfit and then apply for the Hurriyat's membership. Once that is done and he becomes a member of the general council, he can then seek election to the executive committee. Only after that can he become chairman of the APHC.

Do you feel there is a need to broaden your delegation?

Definitely. We would like to carry everyone in Kashmir along with the Hurriyat Conference. If Shahsaheb wants to join us, he is welcome. So are the others.

You say you have resigned but Mirwaiz has not yet taken over. What is the position?

As far as I am concerned, I have handed over the chairmanship to him. Whether he has taken over or not, I am not sure. He, in any case, would be acting chairman till someone else is elected chairman in my place.

Why is no one ready to take over as chairman of the Hurriyat Conference?

I am ready to continue as chairman another year plus one month. That is when my tenure ends. But I want that we should all speak in one voice. India has put us in a very awkward position. If we continue to talk in different voices, then India can tell the world that they were ready to talk to us but we did not respond properly. I am pained at the attitude of some of the leaders on this count.

Do you feelit will take some time before you have your third round of talks with the government?

Our effort is to unite with those organisations that are not a part of the dialogue process so far. The moment that is achieved, we would be ready to continue the talks and take them to their logical end. I cannot give you any timeframe for whether the talks would be held in July or in August.

Recently there has been a spurt in terrorist violence. Has that changed the ground realities in Kashmir?

Of course, these incidents have changed the ground realities. An organisation called 'Save Kashmir' has suddenly sprung up from nowhere and has started accusing the Hurriyat leadership of selling Kashmir to the Government of India. These incidents took place when the valley was full of tourists.

The first incident took place inPahalgam; the second one right in front of the Tourist Centre in Srinagar; and the third was when a madrassa was burnt in downtown Srinagar. There is a pattern to the whole thing. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has done little to catch the culprits.

Have you carried out your own investigation?

The Jammu and Kashmir police and intelligence agencies have to investigate these incidents and catch the culprits. We would have been able to catch them provided the guns of the terrorists and the security forces fall silent. Then we could catch those behind the Save Kashmir organisation and bring them before the people. If they can ring up a journalist and give him a statement claiming to have committed a crime, then why can't the Jammu and Kashmir police track down the culprits?

You told a few weeks ago that you would tender your resignation in case some other person from the Hurriyat wants to become chief minister?

I made this offer because few persons in the Hurriyat feltthey had not been made chairman. I made this offer to Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on May 21. If he can lead the Hurriyat, he is welcome to do so.

Are you scared?

Why should we be scared of anyone? We would brave death and continue to hold talks. We are holding talks with the Government of India in order to end the miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Over seven lakh Kashmiris have been killed in the last 56 years.

How long will this bloodshed continue?

The Government of India and government of Pakistan have to admit that we Kashmiris are a party to the dispute between India and Pakistan. They have admitted this in so many words in the United Nations. Death comes to everyone. We must and we will carry forward this process of dialogue even at the cost of our lives.

Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?

I compliment Atal Bihari Vajpayee for restarting the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan and also with the Hurriyat Conference. Yes, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. It may take time but this dispute cannot linger on forever. The Kashmir problem has to be solved if India and Pakistan want to live in a peaceful manner as neighbours

Image: Uday Kuckian

Photograph: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

The Rediff Interviews

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Number of User Comments: 15

Sub: rootless netas

I just think all these so-called kashmiri netas are totally baseless & people don't need them at all. So it'll be more beneficial to all ...

Posted by raj

Sub: The common man doesn't care

I am damn sure the common man of kashmir is fed up of the violence and disruption of normal life. They want two square meals ...

Posted by Prapanna

Sub: Kashmir - The Rotten place

- I have got some diagonally different views on this - If a place gets as rotten as this, where they will chopp off the ...

Posted by kulmohan

Sub: No talking action is imp by NDA

No talking at all. Kashmir is an integrated part of India. No power will part kashmir from us.

Posted by santosh

Sub: Kashmir & India

There is no need to talk to Hurriat unless they accept Kashmir as an Integral Part of India. We cant talk to people who enjoy ...

Posted by Vijay



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