Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday got down to firefighting, condemning the “cowardly assault” on All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Fazal Haq Qureshi on Friday.
Qureshi was shot in the head from close range when he was coming out of a mosque after Friday prayers. He is still battling for life in the state-run Sher-e-Kashmir Medical Institute in Srinagar.
Chidambaram, who held two rounds of talks with some Hurriyat leaders, said, “The correct response at this hour is not to be cowed down by these violent acts or allow fear to interrupt the process of quiet talks and quiet diplomacy.”
Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said on Saturday the conglomerate would continue the peace initiative despite such attacks. He said, “nobody can stop us. We will see the Kashmir problem to its end.”
“There are certain elements and agencies that don’t want any solution to the Kashmir problem,” the Mirwaiz said, “But we are answerable to thousands of people who had died.”
Government officials, however, acknowledged that such attacks had discouraged Hurriyat leaders in the past.
Qureshi was part of the first Hurriyat delegation that met former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani in 2004, but he withdrew before their second meeting with Advani.
Intelligence officials said Qureshi’s decision followed threats from Pakistan-based terrorist groups. The Mirwaiz had also distanced himself from the talks after his relatives were attacked.
Inspector General of Police Farooq Ahmad told Hindustan Times that no breakthrough had been achieved yet in finding out who were behind the attack on Qureshi. “The incident happened yesterday and we are still investigating,” he said.
The attack, being seen as a violent warning to the Mirwaiz against his initiative to hold talks with the Centre, came two days after Chidambaram said that there were positive responses to the talks offer.
Earlier on October 14, Chidambaram told the Editors’ Conference in New Delhi that the government would hold talks with every section of political opinion in Kashmir through “quiet dialogue, quiet diplomacy” to find a political solution that may be “unique”.