Once pro-dialogue, Jaitley hardens stand on Delhi-Hurriyat talks

  • Peerzada Ashiq, None, Srinagar
  • Updated: Jun 15, 2014 19:22 IST

Despite positive overtures made by certain separatist groups towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hardened its position on New Delhi-Hurriyat talks.

"We are willing to talk to everybody who wants to function within the framework of the Indian Constitution and respects its sovereignty.

These are two issues with which there can be no compromise," said the defence minister.

During the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, several statements made by moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq signaled at the willingness of the moderate separatists to engage with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"If Modi pursues the outlook of his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee regarding the Kashmir issue where he talked of addressing it in 'Insaniyat kay dayire mein' (within limits of humanism) and in this context initiate dialogue with Pakistan and the leadership of Kashmir, then things can move forward," the Mirwaiz had told the HT in an interview.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the past engaged with the Hurriyat without any precondition.
The then home minister LK Advani met Hurriyat leaders in Delhi in 2003.

Jaitley, now holding portfolios of defence and finance ministry, was then among three top interlocutors fielded by the NDA for roping in the Hurriyat leaders.

Two others were KC Pant and NN Vohra, presently governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

While all separatists in the past have refused to hold dialogue within the Indian Constitution, most continue to describe Kashmir as territorial dispute too, questioning the country's sovereignty.

A moderate Hurriyat leader, on the condition of anonymity, expressed disappointment over Jaitley's latest statement on talks.

However, he reiterated the Hurriyat stand on dialogue that "it will engage with any dispensation in Delhi showing seriousness and willingness to resolve the dispute".

Separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik, who has called for 'Quit Kashmir' on June 23, coinciding with the death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Shayma Prasad Mukherjee, has already grown hawkish towards the BJP and has refused to engage with it.

"The RSS and the BJP will observe June 23 for complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India. Our response will be 'Quit Kashmir' and I appeal people from across Kashmir to assemble at Lal Chowk on that day," said Malik on Saturday after being re-elected as the JKLF chairman for next three years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly travelling to Jammu to address a rally on the anniversary of Mukherjee.

Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah has also showed cold shoulder towards the new dispensation at the Centre.

"New Delhi should accept Kashmir as international dispute to start a dialogue process," said

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