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Kashmir is not an integral part of India, Geelani tells all-party delegation

By Mukhtar Ahmad
Last updated on: September 20, 2010 18:05 IST

Five members of the visiting all-party delegation met hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his uptown Hyderpora residence on Monday afternoon.
 
Geelani, who is spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, rejected the invite from the state government to meet the 39-member delegation headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram. "The mandate of the delegation is limited to talking within the framework of the Indian Constitution," Geelani had said, citing the reason why he refused to meet the delegation.
 
However, immediately after the delegation's arrival in Srinagar on Monday morning, senior Communist Party of India - Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, leader of the Majlis-e-Itthehadul Muslimeen Asadudin Owaisi, Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam leader T R Baalu, Akali Dal leader Ratan Singh Ajnala and Telugu Desam Party leader Namo Nageshwara Rao expressed their desire to meet the separatist leaders.
 
When the five leaders reached the residence of Geelani, he agreed to meet them only in

the presence of the media. The leaders urged Geelani to help in the restoration of normalcy in Kashmir, where 105 persons have been killed in the vicious cycle of violence in the last three months.
 
Geelani said that the option of restoring peace was with New Delhi, which could accept his five demands, including the recognition of Kashmir as an international dispute by New Delhi, release of detainees and demilitarization of the state.
 
The members of the delegation told Geelani that they will talk to the government about his demands, but urged him to help stop the violence in the valley.
 
Geelani bluntly told the delegation, "Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute and not an integral part of India."
 
The delegation will now call on moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq at his residence on Monday evening.
 
Both Mirwaiz and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik had earlier rejected the all-party delegation's invitations to meet them, but sent a joint memorandum to them instead.

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
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