October 2000 News

Laden abetting militancy in J&K: Farooq

28 October 2000
The Times of India

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah on Saturday accused Saudi dissident and international terrorist Osama bin Laden of aiding and abetting militancy in the state. ''Eighty per cent militants operating in the state today are foreign elements belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba and other similar outfits. Laden is also involved in this,'' Farooq told Swiss TV channel Suisse Romande here. However, local youths were no longer joining the militant ranks as people had seen through the game of destruction played in the state by the neighbouring country, he said. The CM said the security grid in the state had been strengthened and more and more militants were now getting killed. Contacts between security forces and villagers were being encouraged to eliminate chances of human rights violations, he said, adding that erring officials were punished. He said a solution to the Kashmir problem would have to be found by India and Pakistan themselves as neither the United Nations nor any other country can do it for them. He expressed the hope that the Line of Control (LoC) and border between the two countries would become soft as in Europe with free movement of people on either side. Meanwhile, Shaikh Jamilur Rehman, secretary-general of the so-called Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC), has claimed that they have acquired shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and plan to induct them into Jammu and Kashmir soon. ''We have designed and produced an indigenous anti-aircraft missile to counter the Indian Air Force,'' Rehman was quoted as saying by leading Pakistani weekly Friday Times. ''The missile will be tested very soon,'' Rehman claimed while speaking to newsmen in Lahore to announce that the dominant Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen had been taken back into the fold of MJC, an umbrella organisation of Pakistan-based militants. Defence ministry sources in New Delhi described the reports as ''ridiculous'' and said such claims could only be a cover for Pakistan army providing mercenary groups with such missiles. Highly-placed defence sources said any induction of such missiles into Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan could be adding a dangerous dimension to the conflict. ''It could amount to grave provocation and consequences,'' they said without elaborating. (PTI)


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