'Violent acts cannot interrupt 'quiet talks'

'Violent acts cannot interrupt 'quiet talks'

'Violent acts cannot interrupt 'quiet talks'

Home Minister P Chidambaram

Qureshi, a senior leader of the moderate Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq,  favoured a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir issue and wanted a dialogue with New Delhi.

He was attacked Friday evening while stepping out of a mosque near his Soura residence on Srinagar's outskirts.
The attempt on his life is seen as a violent warning to the moderate Hurriyat group against talks with the central government.

However, New Delhi and the separatist conglomerate reaffirmed its commitment to the dialogue process, saying they won't be cowed down by such attempts to sabotage the peace process.

It is still not clear whether Qureshi, 66, who is stable but not out of danger, was shot at or attacked with a sharp edged-weapon.
A close relative, Tariq Andrabi, said doctors who operated on Qureshi Friday night said that a scan of his head did not show a bullet.

"But neighbours said they heard a gunshot. We are still not clear how he was attacked. He is in the Intensive Care Unit of the SKIMS (Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences) and put on a ventilator for respiratory support," Andrabi told IANS.
A doctor attending on the leader said: "His vital parameters are functioning normally, but we will have to monitor him for the next 48 hours (till Monday morning). He is on antibiotics to avoid infections."

The hospital ICU is under tight security and no one is allowed to meet Qureshi except for his close relatives.
The Al-Nasireen, a little-known guerrilla group believed to be an operational combine of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba terror groups, has owned responsibility for the attack.

In New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the brain behind the "quiet talks, quiet diplomacy" with Kashmiri separatist leaders, sent a tough message to "the elements who want to derail the peace process".
"The correct response at this hour is not to be cowed down by these violent acts or allow fear to interrupt the process of quiet talks and quiet diplomacy," Chidambaram said in a statement.

"I assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that we remain committed to finding a solution through quiet talks with every shade of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir," the home minister added.
He said the attack on Qureshi "was a cowardly attempt by those who do not wish that the problems of Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved through talks and in a peaceful manner".

The Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat won't allow such attempts to derail the peace process.
"There are certain elements within Kashmir who do not want a permanent solution to the problem. They want to continue the uncertainty so that their vested interests are protected," he said in a strong message to militant groups in Kashmir.
"We have vowed to stand by the sacrifices of the martyrs and work for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem by talking to both Pakistan and India," the Mirwaiz said.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah described the attack on Qureshi as an act of terror.
Meanwhile, the Hurriyat sponsored shutdown crippled life in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley.

Traffic was off the roads and businesses were closed as most of the people stayed indoors fearing a backlash by the Mirwaiz's group and Qureshi's supporters.
Stone pelting protesters took to the roads in Rajouri Kadal, Safa Kadal, Bohri Kadal and Nowhatta areas of the old city, forcing closure of markets and traffic. Similar protests were also staged in south Kashmir Anantnag town.
Some private traffic, however, plied in uptown city areas where markets had been shut to protest the attack.

Those who visited the SKIMS to enquire about Qureshi's health included separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Muhammad Yasin Malik and the hardline senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani.
Hakim Muhammad Yasin, former minister and chief of People' Democratic Front (PDF) and Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, state secretary of CPI-M, also went to the hospital.
The executive committee of the moderate Hurriyat, of which Qureshi is an important member, also met here Saturday, but there was no word from the group as to what transpired during the meeting held at the uptown Nigeen residence of Mirwaiz.