March 2002 News

Hurriyat using foreign donations for personal use: Omar

29 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah today accused Hurriyat Conference leaders of receiving donations from abroad and ''using it for personal purpose'' rather than carry forward the so- called movement for Kashmiris. ''Funds do come for the Hurriyat leaders and if these people are so clean then why are not they filing their income tax returns? Abdullah said at a panel discussion for the BBC question time. Admitting that funds were received from abroad, senior Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Lone said expatriate Kashmiris do donate funds for the movement. However, Lone maintained a studied silence about the filing of tax returns and said ''if we are to be examined, then why not the Abdullah family also before a commission of inquiry?'' Abdullah said ''at least we do not have anything to hide. Our transparency process has done wonders for us. I only hope that Hurriyat leaders do not stand exposed in the process.'' Abdullah said the money that flowed from outside the State was used by Hurriyat leaders for lavish life and travelling in style between Srinagar-Gulf countries. On the allegations that arrest of Yasin Malik was a political vendetta, Abdullah said ''no, the evidence was too strong. Otherwise we do not want to make heroes out of people like Yaseen Malik.'' Lone dismissed the allegation and charged the State Government with purchasing ''fake dollars from the open market of Delhi'' and later concocting the story. He said that after arresting Malik, the State Government was looking for the evidence by raiding Hurriyat’s office in Delhi, JKLF office in Srinagar and JKLF chief’s residence. Asked whether the arrest was justified if the dollars were found to be genuine, Lone said ''no it is not justified''. The Union Minister, in reply to a question as to why Malik was allowed to travel to the United States when his action was detrimental to country’s sovereignty, said ''we gave him passport on humanitarian grounds as he claimed that he needed to be treated but at the end our trust was betrayed as usual''. About the forthcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Hurriyat’s participation in it, Abdullah said ''it is the fear of losing that keeps Hurriyat leaders away from polls.'' Lone said the question was not about polls but about the promises made to the people of Kashmir about giving them the right of self-determination. ''We are ready to co-operate with the Centre to create a sense of sincerity to people of Kashmir, which they lack,'' Lone said. To a question on bringing in the Kashmiri Pundits back to the Valley, Abdullah said ''a hard reality but nevertheless we accept it that on this front we have failed. Let us face it.'' Lone said he, along with fire-brand Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had thought in 1995 that we would try to bring in Kashmiri Pundits back to the Valley ''but due to lack of resources we had to shun our plans.'' About the role of foreign mercenaries, Lone said ''the Government was responsible for their entry into the State as they never bothered to talk to us in 1995''. Rejecting this, Abdullah said ''had this been the case, there would have been increase in the number of local militants not seeking aid from across the border.'' Asked if today Pakistan stops support to militants, would there be any specific change in the State, Abdullah said ''before initiating any major effort, the violence has to cease after which we can bring in programmes which could generate employment and ensure all-round development of the State.'' The minister said end of violence would only ensure a move forward in the State. Other panelists included Panun Kashmir leader Ajay Chrungoo and journalist Harinder Baweja.


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