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Advani to head talks with Hurriyat

rediff.com Newsdesk | October 22, 2003 13:28 IST
Last Updated: October 22, 2003 18:34 IST

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani will discuss the Kashmir issue with All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari, Home Secretary N Gopalaswami said after a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The home secretary said the date for the meeting would be decided later.

Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, Planning Commissioner Deputy Chairman K C Pant, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and Cabinet Secretary Kamal Pande were present. Being in Ukraine, Defence Minister George Fernandes missed the meeting.

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The decision came nearly six weeks after a split in the Hurriyat, which led firebrand Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to form a parallel amalgam.

Nearly a year after the National Democratic Alliance-led government came to power, K C Pant was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor in 2000 for talking to various groups, including the separatists, to resolve the Kashmir issue.

However, barring Shabir Shah, none of the separatist leaders came forward to talk to Pant.

The then amalgam chairman, Abdul Gani Bhat, had said, "Pant was fishing in the desert and building bridges where there re no rivers."

Three years after this initiative, the Centre appointed former home secretary N N Vohra as its interlocutor.

Vohra did not send any invitations but advertised in the newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir asking groups to come forward and hold talks. The Hurriyat rejected this move also.

The amalgam, meanwhile, had entered into parleys with former law minister Ram Jethmalani who had launched a private initiative.

Though the initiative was not given any support by the Centre, the Hurriyat still continues to hold talks with Jethmalani's Kashmir Committee.The Centre's pointman for Kashmir, N N Vohra, had recently met Vajpayee and expressed his "deep dissatisfaction" over the deadlocked peace process.

He had also met Advani and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to indicate his dissatisfaction over the "absence of direction" on the proposed talks with the Hurriyat.

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