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2nd round of Kashmir talks on Saturday

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | March 26, 2004 17:38 IST

The second round of talks between the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Centre will be held in New Delhi on Saturday against the backdrop of the recent human rights violations in Kashmir allegedly by security forces and the coming Lok Sabha polls.

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Officials involved in Kashmir affairs say the basic aim of the second round of dialogue process would be to ensure that the historic efforts remain on track beyond the Lok Sabha election.

Officials expect the Hurriyat delegates under the leadership of Maulvi Abbas Ansari to raise the issue of recent human rights violations. "Clear instructions have been given out to the security forces. In the recent days there has been noticeable improvement in the ground situation," an official said.

The Centre would try and seek Hurriyat leaders' support for conducting peaceful polls in Jammu and Kashmir. Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kischenchand Advani would suggest that the Hurriyat, which has traditionally been boycotting elections in the Valley, do not do so this time.

According to Hurriyat sources, the leadership may be unwilling to make a commitment on this count.

The Hurriyat would convey its dismay over the way in which security forces have gone about their counter-insurgency operations. In fact, according to a Hurriyat source, the leadership might demand a cease-fire from Indian security forces so that those who want to give up arms can do so.

On a break after his first leg of the Bharat Uday Yatra, Deputy Prime Minister would attend the meeting with Hurriyat leaders. Several other senior officials would also be present in the meeting on Saturday at North Block, where the Union Home Ministry is headquartered.

Only four of the five Hurriyat leaders, who attended the first meeting in late January this year, would attend this meeting. Fazal Haq Qureshi has pulled out of the Hurriyat team protesting human rights violations and failure of the Centre to release political detainees in the state.

As promised to the Hurriyat leaders during the first round of talks, Centre has released 69 Kashmiri prisoners. While Centre claims that 19 of them were separatists, 24 local militants and 26 were detained under the Public Safety Act, Fazal Haq Qureshi and some other separatists disagree. They believe that among those released were smugglers and petty criminals. And that political prisoners were yet to be released.

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