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Kashmir roundtable tomorrow; Sans separatist outfits

By Staff

New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will tomorrow chair the first ever all party roundtable conference on Kashmir despite all top separatists deciding to stay away from the meet.

The conclave, which would have given an opportunity to the mainstream political leaders and the separatists to discuss the vexed issues on one platform, has lost much of its sheen due to non participation of the secessionists.

The Prime Minister had convened the conclave to ascertain views of all groups including political leaders, separatists, academicians, NGO's and others and arrive at a broad-based consensus on Kashmir.

''We are open to talks with leaders from Kashmir inside and outside the political spectrum... all those who abjure violence and join the mainstream are welcome,'' he had said.

Besides political leaders from the Congress, National Conference, PDP, Panthers Party, the CPI (M) and the BJP and intellectuals, the roundtable will be attended by members of various organisations representing region-specific communities, including Kashmiri Pandits and individuals.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and several of his ministerial collegues are also expected to attend the conclave, to be held at the Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Residence here.

The conclave will commence at 1100 hrs and is expected to continue till 1600 hrs.

The bold move suffered a setback after all top separatists and a few top political leaders rejected outright their participation in the meet, citing different reasons.

Prominent separatist groups such as the moderate Hurriyat Conference, the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the People's Conference, the Kashmir Bar Association and the breakaway Hurriyat Conference all declined to attend the conference.

Significantly, among these groups the moderate Hurriyat Conference, the JKLF and the People's Conference have already held talks with the Prime Minister.


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