‘Kashmiri separatists not taking in assembly polls’

Srinagar:  Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah Thursday refuted reports that the separatists might participate in the 2014 assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There is no question of joining elections in the state under the prevailing conditions,” he said at a press conference.

Shah was reacting to comments made by the former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A.S. Daulat in an interview to the Rising Kashmir newspaper.

“There is no such possibility. We are engaged in a peaceful freedom struggle and the question of joining state assembly elections under the prevailing circumstances does not arise,” said Shah, a member of the moderate Hurriyat group, who has been off and on under house arrest for the past four months for attempting to organise separatist rallies and protests.

He also urged leaders of the divided Hurriyat Conference to dissolve individual groups and merge with the parent body.

“The Hurriyat has to move forward in a structured manner. Grassroots level elections for the Hurriyat must be held and the responsibilities at each level must be clearly defined. The Hurriyat has to be strengthened in the best interests of the people,” he said.

Shah is part of Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. He is also chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party.

On the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, Shah said: “They are a part and parcel of Kashmir. Their respectful return is essential for the unity and diversity of the state.”

“When I was released from jail in 1995, I started my journey to Kashmir after paying obeisance at the temples in Jammu. Ours is a peaceful struggle for freedom and coexistence and nobody would be allowed to dilute this fundamental character of our movement,” he said.

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