Places of Worship
Two days after temporarily suspending its agitation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Hurriyat conference in another significant development asked militants not to misuse mosques as sanctuaries and endorsed Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf's call to "jehadi" groups to stop anti-India propaganda.
Terming the use of mosques by militants as an act of desecration, the umbrella organisation of 23 separatist groups also asked the army to respect the sentiments of the people and not not to cause destruction to places of worship while dealing with militants taking refuge there. "Militants should not bring religious places, including mosques, in the ambit of their activities as it amounts to desecration of the place of worship," senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone, told reporters here.
Lone claimed that the army demolished the mosque in Shangus in Anantnag district during its operation to flush out militants holed in there since Sunday night.
(However, a defence spokesman contradicted it and said the security forces exercised maximum restraint and only some portion of the mosque's annexe was damaged in the fierce exchange of fire.)
Musharraf Asked about Pakistani military ruler's call to jehadi groups to stop anti-India propaganda, lone said "we extend full support to the call of Gen Musharraf and second his statement word by word."
Suspension of Agitation
To a question on Hurriyat's decision to suspend its agitational activities, Lone said there are "elements within the central and the state government who are inimical to the peace process and they would try to create a situation which might provoke the Hurriyat to react and in the process derail the proposed Indo-Pak summit."
"But Hurriyat will not fall in the trap of these elements and that is why we have stopped agitational programmes for the time being," he said, adding "Hurriyat does not want to act in a way which would create bad blood", Lone, however, said normal activities of Hurriyat as regards to "freedom movement" would continue unhindered.
Stressing that no solution to the Kashmir issue could be firmed up without involvement of the people of the state, the Hurriyat leader, however, said he did not insist for inclusion of Kashmiris in the proposed summit meeting as "modalities" for such a move could be "worked out".
"It will be a big tragedy if New Delhi and Islamabad discuss the Kashmir issue and keep the Kashmiris away from the talks," he said.
Asked whether there was a possibility of the Hurriyat leaders meeting Gen Musharraf when he visits New Delhi, Lone said "though it is a God-given opportunity, the government of India will not allow such a meeting." He referred to external affairs minister Jaswant Singh ruling out such a possibility and said "by not allowing Musharraf-Hurriyat meeting, New Delhi is showing disrespect to its honoured guest as it is the prerogative of the visiting dignitary to decide whom he wants to meet."
To a question on whether Hurriyat had any information from Pakistan that Gen Musharraf wants to meet them, he said "to be honest we have no contact with Pakistan."
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