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Talks are a sham: Panun Kashmir

By Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
January 22, 2004 19:44 IST
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Talks between Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference are a sham, Panun Kashmir, the organisation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, said on Thursday.

"The talks have fructified because the US has been applying relentless pressure on India and Pakistan. Besides, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has electoral considerations just like Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, which is why the talks are being held," Panun Kashmir coordinator Yavraj Raina told

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"In this backdrop, you can see that the talks are a sham designed to give the impression that there is a keen intent by the central government to solve the Kashmir problem.

"But in actuality, the government could not care less because the general elections are approaching and it has to carry out the charade that it is bothered about the Kashmir issue, including the plight of Kashmiri Pandits," Raina said.

Even the government does not know what its agenda is, he said.

"As far as the Hurriyat is concerned, it will be satisfied with nothing less than complete independence of Kashmir, everybody knows it.

"The Hurriyat leaders want referendum whether J&K should be in India or go to Pakistan. Everybody knows that they desire the latter alternative."

He said Panun Kashmir has no hopes from either the government, Vajpayee or his Bharatiya Janata Party.

Referring to the Hurriyat's demand that militants be freed and security forces be withdrawn, he said the amalgam's stand always favoured Pakistan.

"So I think that till the elections in both India and Pakistan, the Kashmir pot will be kept boiling. After that, it will be back to square one," he said.

Raina asked, "Why does the government offer us platitudes when it has not even bothered to include us in the talks?"

He pointed out that in October 2003, Panun Kashmir members had met both Vajpayee and Advani.

"But Vajpayee is not the man he was before. He is now inclined towards the National Democratic Alliance agenda on Kashmir, which is only bothered about the Muslim majority in our state while sacrificing the interests of Kashmiri Pandits," Raina said.

Referring to the Jammu and Kashmir government's order directing 19 Pandits to join government service, he expressed fears about his community's safety and security.

"Hurriyat leaders have told us that when they can't take care of their own security, how can they ensure that we are protected. Therefore, how can we return to the valley?" Raina asked.

"Nobody bothers to ask us anything. Decisions concerning us are made unilaterally."

Raina also reiterated that a Panun Kashmir, having an area of 900 sq km with a Union territory status, should be carved out of the state.

"The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh proposed the trifurcation of J&K. We say divide it into four parts by creating Panun Kashmir," he asserted.

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Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi