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Efforts on to form an alternative to Hurriyat

Ajay Kaul in New Delhi | March 09, 2004 18:01 IST

With 'problems' cropping up in the Centre-Hurriyat Conference dialogue process, several other separatist groups have begun efforts to cobble up another conglomerate on the lines of the Hurriyat Conference.

Separatist leaders like former Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) president Shabir Shah are currently engaged in hectic parleys to float a new amalgam, sources told PTI in Delhi.

A faction of the influential Jamait-e-Islami is also veering towards allying with this front, they said adding efforts are also on to woo Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, senior leader of the Abbas Ansari-led Hurriyat.

Initiated by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, the move has the sanction of the Pakistani establishment, the sources said.

During the past fortnight, several meetings have been held among Shah, Malik and Geelani to chalk out the modalities and other details of the prospective front.

Geelani, founder-member of the 23-party Hurriyat Conference, had caused a split in the conglomerate in September 2003 after Maulana Abbas Ansari became its chairman and indicated that he was inclined to hold talks with the Centre.

Malik has since then been maintaining a distance from both the factions.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) has already served a show cause notice to its senior leader Geelani seeking an explanation on his reported move to form a separate Jamaat-like party and sacked his trusted aide and chief of the organisation's political bureau Ashraf Sehrai.

Government officials say the move to form an alternative to the Hurriyat is aimed at 'decimating' the Ansari-led faction, which is engaged in peace talks with the government. "If they are able to attract one or more groups from the Ansari-led Hurriyat, it will reduce the effectiveness of the talks, they said.

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They admit that the dialogue process has been under 'threat' lately and there are doubts if Hurriyat leaders would participate in the second round of talks with Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani.

The hardening of stand by Abbas Ansari is being attributed to the 'pressures from forces inimical to betterment of relations between the state and the Centre' and threats issued by various terrorist groups.

They insist it is the reason for Fazal Haq Qureshi, one of the Hurriyat leaders who participated in talks with the deputy prime minister on January 22, withdrawing from the dialogue process.

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