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Talk to New Delhi, Omar tells separatists

Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday asked the separatists not to shy away from dialogue with New Delhi as “parleys are the only way forward.”

Speaking during the birth anniversary function of his grand father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mr. Abdullah asked the separatists to come forward for talks.

“They [separatists] should face no hindrance in talking to New Delhi as they have talked to parliamentarians,” he said, referring to the recent meetings between separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah and a delegation of parliamentarians and civil society members.

Mr. Abdullah said gunfights and stone-pelting had taken a toll on the people of the State. “The violence of guns and stones has caused severe damage to Kashmir in the past 20 years, but whatever target they [separatists] have can't be achieved by burning school buses or stone pelting,” he said.

“We obviously have our own ways to achieve the target, but in that process people should not suffer. I want to tell Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik that at least we can agree on the issue that people should not get sandwiched in between,” he said.

‘Political issue'

Taking a dig at the Hurriyat leadership, he asked them why they have hesitated to meet Indian leaders when they had no problem meeting the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi.

“I have time and again said that Kashmir is a political issue which needs a political solution. We have always highlighted the importance of settling all issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir through a sustained internal and external dialogue process. Our endeavour in this direction will continue,” Mr. Abdullah said.

“The National Conference symbolises the unity, integrity, communal amity, equitable development and brotherhood in the State. We have inherited this from Sher-i-Kashmir and we would uphold this trait under all circumstances,” he added.

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and the top leadership of the National Conference were present at the mausoleum of Sheikh Abdullah to pay tributes to him.

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