June 2002 News

Ayub Thakur admits sending money to Kashmir

19 June 2002
The Hindu

LONDON: The U.K.-based Kashmiri separatist leader, Ayub Thakur, who is being investigated by the Scotland Yard and the Charities Commission for allegedly funding militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, denied today that he had broken any British law. ''They all know that I have not violated any law here,'' he told presspersons here but pointedly refused to answer a question whether British investigators had been in touch with him. The Charities'' Commission launched its investigations last week following reports that he was using Mercy- Universal, a charitable body, to finance militants in Kashmir. Mr. Thakur admitted that he had been sending money to Kashmir but insisted that it was meant for ''humanitarian'' work and sent through ''normal bank channels.'' Imtiaz Bazaz, a businessman and film-maker through whom the money was funnelled, had ''good relationship with the Indian Government.'' Bazaz , who was arrested recently, told the Indian police that the funds were intended for militants— a charge which Mr. Thakur strongly denied. The last ''instalment'' was of Rs. 500,000 and sent in May to supply 800 sewing machines to needy women whom he described as ''victims of repression''. Mr. Thakur said since no human rights or charity organisation was allowed to operate in Kashmir, there was no other way to provide humanitarian assistance than through informal channels such as the ones he had been using. About the Indian pressure on the British Government to crack down on his activities under Britain''s anti-terrorism law, he said it was a ''witch hunt'' and part of a campaign to ''harass'' Kashmir leaders both within and outside India. He said he would continue to work for ''self- determination'' of the Kashmiri people and not be ''initmidated'' . He called for a boycott of the State Assembly elections and said his World Kashmir Freedom Movement would step up ''diplomatic'' pressure on the international community to get India to implement the U.N. resolution on plebiscite. Mr. Thakur, who has been been living in Britain for over two decades, is alleged to have links with Pakistan''s intelligence agency, ISI.


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