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Geelani not to attend J&K round-table meet
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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April 22, 2007 19:59 IST
Last Updated: April 22, 2007 21:42 IST

The hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference on Sunday turned down the invitation for next week's round-table conference on Kashmir saying the exercise was not aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was received by thousands of supporters when he arrived in Srinagar on Sunday after a major kidney surgery in Tata memorial hospital in Mumbai, told a gathering, "We will not take part in the conference that is not meant to resolve the Kashmir issue."

The Hurriyat leader termed the round-table conference to be held on April 24 in Delhi as wastage of time.

As Geelani appeared on the stage, a masked youth suddenly stood up and displayed the flag of the Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The crowds repeatedly shouted pro-militant and pro-Pak slogans.

"Nothing short of independence is acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir," said Geelani who returned to Srinagar after nearly three months of treatment in Mumbai.

"India and Pakistan are giving an impression that they have already reached an agreement on Kashmir. If such an agreement is thrust on the people, it would have adverse consequences," he said.

"Self-rule, internal autonomy, easing of borders and maintaining the status quo is not acceptable to us," he said, adding, "I received an invitation for the conference on April 18 and was also invited for a dinner on April 23. Conferences and talks were held on Kashmir for 136 times in the past but no result was achieved."

"We will take part in the talks, which are meant for resolution of the issue," the firebrand leader said.

On ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue, he said the two nations were engaged in talks since 2004 but no breakthrough had been achieved on Kashmir.

"Any solution arrived at between India and Pakistan on Kashmir will not be acceptable to us if it is not according to wishes and aspirations of the people," Geelani said.

He said Kashmir Committee chairman Ram Jethmalani had met him three days ago and claimed that India and Pakistan had covered a lot of ground over Kashmir and were going to sign an agreement soon.

"But, I want to make it clear that Kashmir issue is not a boundary dispute," the Hurriyat hardliner said.

He said, "We will continue our struggle till the right of self-determination is granted to the people."

Terming claims of mainstream political leaders that peace had returned to Kashmir as hollow, he said the ground situation spoke otherwise.

At the rally, he asked people not to participate in elections in the state.

"We will observe a complete boycott of parliamentary, assembly, panchayat and municipal polls whenever these are held," he told the audience.

Apparently referring to the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, he said, "We will not cooperate with those who are changing their colours frequently." 

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir police has registered a case against the separatist leaders for the anti-national slogans that were raised at Sunday's rally.

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