February 1999 News

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UK Freezes Jammu and Kashmir Separatists' Fund

17th February 1999
The Pioneer
By: Sanjay Suri

LONDON: A "Jihad (holy war) Fund" to support separatists in KAshmir has been frozen by British authorities after a split in the `Muslim Parliament' of Great Britain.

One faction of the now divided Muslim body has warned it will call in the police to investigate the funds of the so-called Parliament. "We have set up our own inquiry and if we do not get a satisfactory response we will call in the fraud squad, Jahangir Mohammed, leader of the rebel group, said.

The group has also threatened that it well set up a Shariat court to "try" the leadership of the other group under Islamic law.

The division within the `Muslim Parliament' and the suspension of its accounts comes as a heavy blow to the most ambitious Muslim project in Britain. The 'Parliament' was launched in 1992 as a "non-territorial Islamic state" by its founder Kalim Siddiqui.

Without about 130 appointed 'MMPs' (Members of the Muslim Parliament), the body was set up to be the single voice to speak commonly for the many Muslim organisations. The body found some early successes -- and controversy -- with the setting up of a fund called Arms For Bosnia.

The so-called Parliament used that fund to finance Muslim groups resisting Serbs and supporting Muslims in the former Yugoslavia. After the end of the fighting in Bosnia the fund was renamed the "Jihad Fund", with a declared aim of supporting Islamic movements, particularly in Kashmir.

The focus on Kashmir came because most of the `MMPs' appointed to the `Parliament' were of Pakistani origin. Founder Siddiqui was himself of Pakistani descent. So is Ghiyasuddin, who claims to be the present leader and is now facing a challenge to his leadership.

"The accounts in the name of the Muslim Parliament now stand frozen," said Jahangir Mohammed.

"The accounts of some other related institutions have also been kept under suspension," he said.

A spokesman for the Ghiyasuddin camp admitted that accounts had been placed under suspension. He said this had arisen from "property disputes."

A meeting of the Jahangir group's General Purposes Committed, described as the "highest decision-making body" of the `Parliament' was called in Manchester on Saturday to present Ghiyasuddin with a final warning.

"A senior MMP has been asked to investigate the paperwork on the finances and the funds," Mohammed said. The police will be called in if the information is held back from the MMP, he said.

The rebel`Parliament' group has called a meeting of all MMPs whose membership was valid three years ago. "After that a lot of our members have been removed simply on the will of the London leadership," said Mohammed, who is based in Manchester.

"There are a total of nine or ten accounts and we want to know what has been done with the money in them," he said.

The `Parliament' had removed one MMP for financial misdemeanours earlier when Siddiqui was its leader. The split now that threatens to bring in the police could uncover several facts about its Jihad Fund.

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