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J-K govt won't stop Hurriyat leaders from going to Delhi

india Updated: Aug 21, 2015 20:40 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times
Hurriyat leaders

File photo of Sartaj Aziz, security and foreign affairs advisor to Pakistan's Prime Minister (AFP Photo)

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday decided to allow top separatists to fly to Delhi for a meeting with the Pakistani national security adviser, ending bickering within the ruling coalition over travel restrictions on these leaders.

The PDP and BJP were caught in an embarrassing drama after separatist leaders were put under house arrest and freed in a matter of hours on Thursday.

They struck a middle path on Friday, hoping the Hurriyat leaders could still get arrested in the national capital and prevented from meeting Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz, who will be in Delhi for a scheduled dialogue with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Sunday.

The Pakistani high commissioner had invited the separatist leaders to meet Aziz.

“We will not put any restrictions. The separatist leaders are free to go anywhere,” said a senior PDP leader. “New Delhi can decide what they want to do but we won’t do anything.”

The state’s stand effectively puts the ball on the Centre’s court, which could take a tough stand because of heightened tension between the two countries, triggered primarily by shelling and firing from across the border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said even hardliners Syed Ali Shah Geelani and J and K Democratic Freedom Party chairman Shabir Shah would be allowed to go to Delhi, though both have been under preventive house arrest for months.

Geelani and Shah remained under house arrest but the measure was more to do with Friday prayers than the meeting with Aziz, sources said.

Thursday’s two-hour detention drama revealed rifts within the coalition as the BJP, which is the junior partner, insisted on arresting Hurriyat hardliners as well as moderates but the PDP was not apparently in favour of such action.

A PDP leader said chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was not informed about the house arrests. “When he heard about it, he put his foot down,” he said.

This is not the first time the two partners were caught in a controversy. Early this year, the BJP was on the verge of pulling out of the alliance over the release of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam, an issue that forced the NDA government to firefight in Parliament.

The 42-year-old separatist played a key role in the 2010 anti-India protests in the Valley.

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