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'Azadi' demand could be reference point in J-K talks: Lone

September 04, 2010 03:24 IST

In the backdrop of the latest unrest in Kashmir, separatist leader Sajjad Lone said the demand for independence for the region could be the reference point for starting a dialogue with the union government.

"The reference point has to be an independent homeland. Then you can have dialogues with the union government for permanent peace," Lone, who in the city to appeal people to oppose violence in Kashmir, told reporters in Mumbai.

"You have to look at the expectations of the Kashmiri people and the Indian government should have intention to deliver because old promises have not been honoured and peace talks have been betrayed," he said.

Asked about the Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to leave the Valley, he said, "It was sad that they (Pandits) had to leave. Everyone has to stay here. My father was killed but I didn't opt to leave the place."

Lone felt that the withdrawal of the army from Kashmir would boost trust among people. "If the military is removed from the civilian areas, it would be a confidence building measure," he said.

Asked whether hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had been marginalised in the ongoing movement, Lone replied in the negative. "I don't think he (Geelani) was ever marginalised," he said.

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