Kashmir is disputed territory, says Geelani

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Srinagar, Dec.3 (ANI): Kashmir is not an integral part of India, it is disputed, claimed Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the chairman of the hardline faction of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), on Wednesday.

"We never refuse dialogue, but from March 23, 1952, more than 130 rounds of dialogues have been taken place but they were unable to provide any solution," said Geelani.

"India has to accept one basic fact that Jammu and Kashmir is not an integral part of India, it is a disputed territory," he added during an interaction with the media on the sidelines of an Eid Milan party here.

"Our demand is very much genuine and based on historical facts. The people of Jammu and Kashmir must be given right to self determination so that they can decide their future whether they want to be with India or exceed to Pakistan," he said.

Some leaders of the moderate faction of the APHC held secret talks with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram recently, suggesting that plans are afoot for a resumption of dialogue with separatist elements in the Kashmir Valley.

The Hurriyat has urged New Delhi to pull out troops, release prisoners and end human rights violations before resuming peace talks.

Dialogue between the government and the separatists broke down in 2006. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered to resume talks during a visit to Kashmir in October.

Officials say more than 47,000 have been killed in the past 20 years in the Muslim majority region, where anti-India sentiment still runs deep.

With violence down in recent years, India began withdrawing troops from Kashmir's main towns and handed over law and order to the police, giving signals they were getting ready for peace talks.

Any sign of peace talks may help reduce tension in the Himalayan region, the focus of conflict between India and Pakistan for decades. (ANI)

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