Hizb chief speaks out against strike calls in Valley

Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Syed Salahuddin has voiced his opposition to the frequent calls for strike during the unrest in the Valley last summer and said the leaders should now learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

In an interview to a local news agency which was carried by various newspapers here, Salahuddin also said that the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of nearly 12 militant groups, will positively intervene if the Indian government comes up with a "sincere" offer for talks for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Salahuddin while touching upon various issues questioned the way the summer unrest that left around 100 persons dead was handled in the valley by the separatists.

"85 per ent of people in Kashmir live hand-to-mouth. No nation can observe strikes forever and remain under curfew. We had appealed to our friends on July 24 (last year) to strategise the movement, but unfortunately, they didn’t listen," he said.

Asked to identify the people who did not listen to his advice, he said, "I do not want to identify them as it would harm the movement. But now they should learn a lesson from their mistakes."

In his usual blow-hot, blow-cold policy, Salahuddin while showing some inclination for a dialogue process with New Delhi at the same time said "gun was the only solution". He also warned separatists not to speak anything against militancy.

"If India comes forward with a sincere offer for talks for the solution of Kashmir as per the wishes of our people, we are ready to respond positively," he said.

Salahuddin, who is also the self-styled supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, said the Centre would have to talk to the separatist leadership in Kashmir but the militant organization was willing to intervene positively if a solution to the issue emerges.

He said the dialogue process has to be conducted with sincerity and Centre must accept Kashmir as the core issue. "Otherwise it is a wastage of time," he said.

While saying this, Salahuddin, who heads Hizbul Mujahideen, also said "gun is the only solution to achieve freedom" and also asked hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatist leaders not to issue any statements against "armed struggle".

On senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Bhat’s recent statement that Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone, were killed by our own people, he said, "those who killed innocents should be brought to public court...but this is not the appropriate time to touch these issues as it may harm the movement."

Regretting the failed attempts in getting the two Hurriyat factions united, he said "it is unfortunate that Hurriyat is divided. Separately we cannot reach our goal, we have to get united."