Nepal Muslims back J&K militancy
10 September 2001
The Hindustan Times
Kathmandu: In stark contrast to Nepal''s position on the Kashmir issue, a Nepalese Muslim organisation has extended support to the ongoing separatist agitation in the Indian state. President of the Nepal Muslim Ettehad Association and former minister Salim Miya Ansari has said, ''We express our solidarity with Kashmiri Muslims who are fighting for their liberation in Kashmir. We want India to hold a referendum there. We cannot sit quiet as India has killed 70,000 Muslims there.'' Ansari, who is also a leader of the major Opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), raised the issue at a press conference called by the association to oppose ''the propaganda of the Indian government and media against patriotic Nepalese and Muslims.'' The 12-year-old association has 42 units, mostly in the plains bordering India. There are an estimated two million Muslims in Nepal. Last month, some Indian newspapers had reported that Delhi was seeking Ansari''s extradition in connection with an alleged plot to kill Tarun J. Tejpal, editor of the portal Tehelka.com. Describing Ansari as an ISI agent, the newspapers claimed that he had links with Rashtriya Janata Party MP Mohammed Sahabuddin, who is also suspected to be involved in the plot. Ansari who hails from Birgunj near the Nepal-Bihar border, alleged that ''India has prepared a grand design to gobble up Nepal like Sikkim or enslave it like Bhutan. Whenever a patriotic Nepalese raises his voice against this, India calls him an ISI agent.'' Accusing the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP), an organisation of Nepalese of Indian origin, of helping India grab the kingdom, he alleged that Delhi had launched a tirade against him only because he had opposed its expansionist programme.