Srinagar: Union minister V K Singh’s statement that separatist leaders can talk to Pakistan High Commissioner was on Monday welcomed by the moderate Hurriyat Conference while the hardline faction said peace will not be restored until promises made by the Centre to Kashmiri people were fulfilled.

While welcoming Singh’s statement, Chairman of moderate Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the Centre has realised that red lines do not work in politics or diplomacy, the chief of hardline faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani said peace cannot be achieved till promises made by India to the people of Kashmir at the national and global level are fulfilled.

“It (Singh’s statement) is better late than never. Perhaps the government of India has realised the red lines which they had drawn do not work either in politics or diplomacy,” Chairman of moderate Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters.

Terming it as a “welcome change” and an “acceptance of the reality”, he said there is no other option for India and Pakistan but to engage with each other and take along the people of Kashmir.

A file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. ReutersA file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reuters

A file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reuters

He suggested that the Centre need to revisit the policies of “shedding the beaten track and take new initiatives” of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to address Kashmir issue.

In a written reply in Parliament on 28 April, Singh had said that since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India and these so-called Kashmiri ‘leaders’ are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India.

The Mirwaiz said the Kashmir is among India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Hurriyat has always maintained that it is the primary party to the dispute.

He also accused the state government of using “oppressive methods” to silence the separatists.

The Mirwaiz threatened mass agitation if the curbs on the movement of separatists are not withdrawn immediately.

Meanwhile, dismissing Singh’s statement, Geelani said “It is not an issue for us whether we are invited or not. Our only concern is that the promises made by India to the people of Kashmir at the national and global level are fulfilled.”

“UN resolutions be implemented to give an opportunity to the people of J-K the right to self-determination. Till then peace cannot be achieved,” he told reporters.

He said Kashmir was not a border dispute between India and Pakistan, but an “internationally accepted dispute and the solution of which lies in implementation of UN resolutions.”

Geelani alleged that plans were being made by BJP and RSS to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an all-India level medical entrance test.

“They will then be selected at all-India level and if students from here are selected, they will be sent to different states and doctors from other states will be forced upon us.

“This is the plan of RSS and BJP, to turn Valley of Muslim saints into a Hindu Rashtra. They want to force Hindutva upon us,” Geelani said.

About his successor in his party Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and the Hurriyat Conference amalgam, Geelani said the leader would be chosen after consultations following his death.

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Govt has realised red lines don’t work in politics or diplomacy: Hurriyat