Geelani seeks Afzal Guru’s release before dialogue


Srinagar : Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani Tuesday demanded the release of 45 prisoners, including parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, as one of the preconditions for a dialogue with New Delhi.

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In addition to Afzal Guru, Geelani’s list includes separatist leaders Shabir Shah, Muhammad Nayeem Khan, Asiya Andrabi, Ashraf Sehrai and Kashmir Bar Association president Mian Qayoom among others.

Afzal Guru was sentenced to death for his role in the Dec 13, 2001, attack on parliament. He has filed a mercy petition with the president.

The chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat group told a media conference at his uptown Hyderpora residence that in order to start the dialogue with India, India and the international community must first accept Kashmir as a disputed territory.

He sought the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), withdrawal of cases against arrested separatist leaders and youth besides registration of cases against those among the security forces who he blamed for killing civilians in Kashmir.

Geelani also said that demilitarization should start as a precondition to the dialogue process and this should be supervised by the UN.

He threatened to intensify the ongoing ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign if New Delhi did not stop what he called “oppressive measures to muzzle the voice of freedom-loving people of Kashmir”.

The Kashmir Valley has virtually remained shut for over two months because of curfews and separatist shutdowns. As many as 65 people have lost their lives in the ongoing unrest here that started June 11.