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August 7, 2000
Hizb's Muzzaffarabad command to decide on talks
Mukhtar Ahmad and Onkar Singh in Srinagar
The Hizbul Mujahideen Monday authorised its Muzaffarabad based command council to take a decision on talks with the government.
In his first statement after announcing a unilateral cease-fire last month, the chief commander operations Hizbul Mujahideen Abdul Majid Dar Monday denied that the outfit was talking to the government. "We have no contact with the government since the first round of direct talks on August 3," Dar said in a hard-hitting statement.
"Reports about an ongoing dialogue are aimed at maligning my outfit," he added. He said that the statement of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee "has poured water on efforts by the Hizbul Mujahideen for restoration of peace in Kashmir".
He added, "We had provided a chance to India and Pakistan to discuss and resolve the Kashmir issue." Dar warned that he fires in Kashmir can engulf the entire sub-continent.
He said that the Government of India's initial response had raised "our hopes" but Monday's statement has "poured water on the hopes".
Dar, however, asked the government to "clearly state its position" and added that "then only will the Hizbul Mujahideen formulate its proper response".
Dar said that the outfit had decided on the cease-fire decision after months of deliberation.
''We took the decision after proper deliberation. This is neither an emotional announcement not has it been made under pressure."
"People, including Kashmiri pundits, had many problems, human rights violations were taking place in Kashmir," he added.
Dar announced that the Hizbul Mujahideen had authorised its Muzaffarabad based command council to take a decision on the talks. The deadline set by the outfit expires Tuesday and reports from Muzzafarabad said that the council is in session.
It is hoped here that the outfit will extend its deadline.
Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin has said that the cease-fire will be withdrawn if the government did not include Pakistan in talks. But, the prime minister has made it clear the Pakistan will not be included in talks with the Hizb.
Meanwhile, a powerful bomb exploded at Nehru Park on the banks of the Dal lake in Srinagar. No one was injured.
Police said that a bomb planted in an abandoned two-wheeler exploded late Monday afternoon.
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