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Geelani wants release of arrested Kashmiris

Srinagar: Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Tuesday said he told BJP leader Yashwant Sinha that the government should release all separatist leaders and others arrested during an ongoing unrest as a precursor to beginning negotiations on how to solve the Kashmir issue.

Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday led a five-member team to Kashmir to meet separatists, including Geelani and Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

A statement issued by the Hurriyat faction led by Geelani said the “high level delegation” called on the octogenarian leader at his residence soon after Sinha and the others landed in Srinagar.

“The conversation took place in a cordial atmosphere” and Geelani demanded that “all people and leaders should be released and the cases against them withdrawn so that, after consultation, a common and collective point of view can be put forward” over the Kashmir issue, the statement said.

The Sinha-led team includes former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, who has served in Jammu and Kashmir, ex-Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan and activist Sushobha Barve.

The delegation members made it clear that they did not represent the government and were visiting the Kashmir Valley on their own initiative.

The visit is aimed at breaking a logjam after 108 days of unrest and shutdown that have hit normal life in the Kashmir Valley.

At least 92 persons have been killed and over 12,000 injured in clashes between protestors and security forces.

Police have arrested over 7,000 persons, who are suspected to be stone throwers. Some have been let off.

—IANS