The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unfazed Mufti sticks to talks track
- Hyderabad encounter kills 2nd suspect; militants send menacing message to J&K CM

Srinagar, Nov. 24: Brushing aside an audacious claim by militants that a chain of bloody strikes were intended as a “message” to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the chief minister today asserted that “no level of violence can stall the process of dialogue”.

“I would strive for a serious dialogue between the Centre and the elected representatives of the people and other sections, and no level of militant violence could derail the process of dialogue. Enough blood had been spilled in the past 13 years and now is the time to have a serious and meaningful dialogue to address the problem,” Sayeed said.

The chief minister made the comments at a meeting where he handed over letters of appointment on compassionate grounds to the relatives of the victims of violence.

Mufti flew in here from Jammu this morning to take stock of the security situation following the spurt in violence in the past two days.

As many as 18 securitymen were killed and nearly 40 wounded in the Valley over the last 48 hours. Twelve people were killed when a landmine exploded on a convoy of soldiers and their families on the Srinagar-Jammu highway yesterday.

“It was a response to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s assertion that militancy was on its last legs,” two guerrilla groups said in a brief statement. The two pro-Pakistan groups — Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-e-Jehad Islami — claimed responsibility for the blast.

But Sayeed, who has vowed to bring a healing touch to the state, said “dialogue, and not the gun, was the means to find solution to any problem. My government has accorded top priority to the initiation of an unconditional dialogue. I am committed to return to the state peace with dignity,” the chief minister said.

But he cautioned against forces that would try to “sabotage” the effort. “We won’t allow the process to get derailed. My government will bring the people, particularly the youth, out of the atmosphere of hopelessness and usher them into an era of peace and prosperity.

“People are sandwiched between two guns. I am not speaking only of militants’ gun. People are killed getting caught in crossfires. A free atmosphere for the youth has to be created,” he said.

Sayeed said he had been able to move “forward in my efforts to create a consensus at the national level in respect of urgency of a serious dialogue”.

“The Congress attaches importance to initiating a dialogue in order to address the problem that has left the state bleeding,” Sayeed added.

He said the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, too, had been offering unconditional dialogue to militants. “The process of dialogue will take some time to get going and the government will concentrate on providing good governance to ameliorate the suffering.”

Bandh threat

Rebel group Al-Umar Mujahideen, fighting for Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, has called a two-day strike starting Tuesday to protest the alleged detention of its chief in Islamabad last week.

Al-Umar Mujahideen chief Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar was one of three militants freed from jail by India in December 1999 in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane.

“Any vehicle found on the roads, any shop found open shall be set ablaze,” Rafiq Ahmad Dar, the group’s chief commander, said.

Dar also warned leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference not to visit the Jamia mosque in Srinagar.

“If any leader does not heed the warning and dares to venture in the (Jamia) mosque he shall be shot dead,” Dar said without giving reasons for the threat.

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