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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 as acting 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.
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.
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.
The first incident took place in Pahalgam; 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.
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?
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.
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
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