The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lone brothers still in Hurriyat

Srinagar, Sept. 1: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference today failed to reach an agreement on whether or not to expel the Lone brothers from the separatist conglomerate, following a split in the People’s Conference.

Scores of People’s Conference supporters held a demonstration outside the Hurriyat headquarters against the apprehended “expulsion” of Hurriyat executive member Bilal Lone, the eldest son of slain organisation founder Abdul Gani Lone.

“We have come from various places in Kupwara in buses to tell the Hurriyat not to expel the Lone brothers. We hope the Hurriyat leaders will not act in haste,” said Abdul Gani, a supporter of the party. “We will not participate in the forthcoming polls,” assured the demonstrators, who later visited the Lone residence and met the founder’s son Sajjad, the chairman of the People’s Conference.

The Hurriyat executive and the general council met today to decide whether or not to expel the Lone brothers from the Hurriyat Conference.

According to sources, some members spoke against the Lone brothers and asked the Hurriyat chairman to expel or suspend them from the conglomerate’s executive. However, it was decided later that the issue would be discussed again on Monday.

The meeting follows the filing of nominations by four loyalists of Abdul Gani Lone from Kupwara. The People’s Conference said the four leaders have been expelled from the party.

On Saturday, the jailed vice-president of the People’s Conference, Ghulam Hubbi, sacked both Sajjad and Bilal. Sajjad retaliated that evening by expelling Hubbi and the party’s general secretary.

“This (split in the People’s Conference) is a serious issue. We discussed it and the decision will be announced hopefully tomorrow,” said Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat. He said the supporters of the People’s Conference who visited the Hurriyat headquarters shouted pro- freedom slogans.

Sonia ‘advice’ row

The BJP has asked Sonia Gandhi to explain her “advice” to Shabir Shah at their recent meeting. The “advice”, the BJP believes, led the Democratic Freedom Party leader to decide on not contesting the elections.

A statement issued by BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “It is worth pointing out that just hours prior to the meeting between Sonia Gandhi and Shabir Shah, his party, along with the Kashmir Committee, had issued a statement in which he categorically stated that his party is willing to participate in the election process.”

The BJP general secretary said Shah indicated that he agreed with the Prime Minister’s view that a dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem could be initiated only with elected representatives and, therefore, participation in elections was important.

He asked the Congress to explain and “bare the facts on the details of the discussions between them since this is a sensitive issue of national importance”.

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