November 2017 News

Hafiz Saeed Vows To Continue Kashmir Struggle

24 November 2017
The Hindu
Vijaita Singh and Mubashir Zaidi

New Delhi: As 26-11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed vowed to continue his struggle to 'free' Kashmir from India in a sermon just hours after his release from house arrest on Friday, the Union Home Ministry described his comments as a 'rearticulation' of the agenda of terrorists 'who have thrived across the border.' Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir 'is and will remain an integral part' of India, the Ministry said that such repeated utterances by terrorists have been given an appropriate response on the ground every time by the law enforcement agencies and the people of the State. 'The principled and consistent stand of the government of India on the issue is that Jammu and Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India,' it said in reaction to Saeed's remark that he would mobilise people in the cause of Kashmir. A Home Ministry official noted that statements such as those made by Saeed on Friday were made repeatedly in the past. Home Minister Rajnath Singh refused comment. Saeed, at a Friday prayer sermon at Markaz Al-Qadsia in Lahore, also made a scathing attack on ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif calling him a traitor for wanting peace with India. 'You took oath on defending Pakistan and Kashmir, you betrayed the people of Kashmir. I want to tell you that you were ousted from power because you committed treason for trying to develop close relations with Modi,' he said. Saeed was freed from house arrest as the Home department decided not to file any other case against him. Police guards were removed from his residence after midnight where a large number of supporters gathered to celebrate the end of his house arrest. Addressing his supporters, Saeed said: 'I was detained for 10 months only to stop my voice for Kashmir. I fight for the cause of Kashmiris. I will gather the people from across the country for the cause of Kashmir and we will try to help Kashmiris get their destination of freedom.' A Review Board of the Lahore High Court had ordered him to be freed on Tuesday after authorities failed to file any formal charges against him since his house arrest in January this year. The board also rejected the request of the Punjab government for further extension of his house arrest. A government lawyer had urged the board to extend the house arrest for another three months as the country may face cut in aid or limited sanctions for freeing a UN-designated terrorist. A picture of Saeed was posted by the social media team where he is seen cutting a cake after his release. The post was titled 'The Freedom Cake.' Saeed addressed supporters at his Johar Town residence in Lahore in which he vowed to continue his struggle to free Kashmir from India. 'Although there are only a few days left in this year, we will continue our struggle in the next year and mobilise people and take forward our movement to free Kashmir. God willing, with the support of the people, we will take Kashmir to its destiny,' he said. He has been designated a declared terrorist by the UN, U.S. and India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Last month, authorities had withdrawn terrorism charges against Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa and kept him under detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) rules paving the way for his release. His detention had been extended five times since he was detained in a crackdown, after the government put JuD and its charity arm Falah-i-Insaaniyat Foundation on the sanctions and terror watch list. Saeed challenged his detention in the Lahore High Court in February. His lawyer A.K. Dogar had urged the court to order the release of Saeed and his four aides since no formal charges were filed against his client after so many months of detention. In September this year the Pakistan Election Commission had stalled the JuD's attempt to enter the mainstream by rejecting the application of Milli Muslim League party, its front organisation. The Interior Ministry wrote a letter to the Election Commission that JuD and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaaniyat are under sanctions within the country and internationally as well.

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