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Kashmir rebels reject India-Pakistan move
A top Kashmir rebel leader has rejected as 'paperwork' a move by India and Pakistan to reopen talks and said it will not stop a 14-year insurgency.
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2004 10:08 GMT
The military has ruthlessly cracked down on the insurgency
A top Kashmir rebel leader has rejected as 'paperwork' a move by India and Pakistan to reopen talks and said it will not stop a 14-year insurgency.

"Tuesday's development is nothing but paperwork," Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of the Hizb al-Mujahidin rebel group, said of the landmark deal by India and Pakistan to resume dialogue to solve issues including Kashmir.

"We have seen dozens of such announcements and agreements in the past but unfortunately India never honoured a single one." 

The majority-Muslim region of Kashmir, divided between the neighbours and claimed by both, has caused two of their three wars and brought them to the brink of a fourth confrontation in 2002. 

Hizb al-Mujahidin is one of over a dozen rebel groups fighting Indian rule in New Delhi's zone of Kashmir since 1989. 

Indian and Pakistani leaders have agreed to reopen talks for the first time since July 2001, when they met in the Indian city of Agra but failed to make any agreement.

"We have seen dozens of such announcements and agreements in the past but unfortunately India never honoured a single one" 

Syed Salahuddin,
Hizbul Mujahedin chief

But Salahuddin said Kashmiris could not trust India, which insists the region is an integral part of its territory and has deployed thousands of troops to suppress the insurgency.

"It seems India wants to gain time, during which it would ... employ every possible resource to crush the freedom struggle in the occupied territory," he said.

Call to intensify jihad

Another Kashmiri rebel group, the Jamiat-ul-Mujahidin, urged rebels to increase their holy war against the Indian occupation of Kashmir." 

"We will continue our jihad in Kashmir and urge other groups to increase their activities to force India out of Kashmir," Sheikh
Abdul Basit, the Jamiat chief said.

Basit, whose group is one of about a dozen fighting Indian rule, accused the nations of ignoring the "miserable plight" of Kashmiris during their talks. 

"Let me remind the two countries bilateral talks and agreements have failed in the past. The best thing is to enter into trilateral talks and involve Kashmiris"

Molvi Abbas Ansari,
Separatist leader

Other separatists welcomed the plans to resume talks but said they would not be sidelined in the quest for a solution in the Himalayan region.

"We are pleased with both countries for breaking ice," Molvi Abbas Ansari, head of one wing of the region's main separatist alliance, said. "But let me remind the two countries bilateral talks and agreements have failed in the past. The best thing is to enter into trilateral talks and involve Kashmiris," said Ansari, a leading Shia.

Pro-New Delhi politicians hailed the decision by India and Pakistan to start formal peace talks.

"The forces of peace have at last asserted themselves and emerged triumphant," Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said.

Five killed

Violence continues on a daily basis in the picture-postcard Himalayan region.  

Police and troops shot dead four rebels in a raid on a hideout at Banihal in Doda district, 200 kilometres north of the winter capital Jammu, a defence spokesman said. 

In the central district of Budgam, a civilian was dragged out of his home late Tuesday and shot dead, police said.

Police said the killing was carried out by rebels, although no group immediately claimed responsibility.

There was no independent confirmation of either incident.

Source:
Agencies
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