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'Invitees to second roundtable must be relevant people'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 26 (UNI) With less than a month remaining for the the second roundtable in Srinagar next month, voices from several quarters have demanded that only ''relevant'' people be invited to the conference to avoid a ''crowd'' and make it purposeful.

Leaders and representatives from several parties and groups have expressed hope that the May 25 conference will focus on ''quality rather than quantity''.

They said after the first roundtable, which was attended by about 50 invitees at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 7 Race Course Residence on February 25, the guest list needed to be rationalised for the next edition of the meet, to be held in the last week of May.

''Last time, it was too big a group. I am expecting that this time the emphasis would be on the quality and not the quantity,'' Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said while hoping that the list of invitees would be small.

Mr Azad said there should be only one or two representatives from a party or a group and not half a dozen people as happened at the last round-table. ''We should not make it one way,'' he added.

Without naming the group, Mr Azad said at the first roundtable a small party was represented by five people.

''The party should and could have been represented by one person only,'' he added.

Expressing similar views, National Conference President Omar Abdullah said he was waiting to see the level of participation in the conference.

''If this roundtable is used again to call those who are largely irrelevant in the eyes of the people, then unfortunately the conference will deliver little or nothing,'' he added.

Agreeing with Mr Azad that the guest list for the second roundtable needs to be rationalised, the NC President said the conference of about 50-60 people holds absolutely no weightage.

''There is also the need to look harder at the representative character of those who are being invited. The token separatists will not do. The separatists actually carrying some appeal need to be engaged and not those who have already sold themselves to one agency or another,'' he added.

National Conference chief patron Farooq Abdullah urged the Centre not to invite every ''Tom, Dick and Harry'' for the conference.

''Widening the scope of the dialogue process to no limit will not yield any result,'' he said.

Dr Abdullah said the people of Kashmir have suffered badly particularly during the last 17 years and their wounds should be allowed to heal now.

Even the Hurriyat Conference, which had not attended the first conclave, has said only select people be invited to the May roundtable.

The moderate Hurriyat Conference will participate in the second roundtable in Srinagar next month provided it is first called for a one-on-one with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, according to amalgam sources.

The separatist leaders wanted to hold the second phase of discussions with the Prime Minister to explain their stand on several issues, including the roundtable.


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