| Abdul Gani Bhat
Srinagar, Feb. 7: Caught in a bind after two of its activists were picked up in Delhi with alleged Pakistani funds, Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat today said it might shut down its awareness bureau in the capital amid the “mounting pressure and intimidation”.
Bhat, who hastily returned from his native village in north Kashmir after the row erupted, categorically said the Hurriyat Conference had never received any money from Pakistan either “covertly or overtly”.
“We don’t use conduits for funnelling money. These are false and baseless charges. The government is mounting pressure on us to force the Hurriyat to close down our office in New Delhi,” he said.
Delhi police had yesterday arrested Anjum Zamarud Habib, chairman of Khwateen-e-Markaz, a Hurriyat constituent, with over Rs 3 lakh that she claimed was a donation from Pakistan deputy high commissioner Jalil Abbas Jilani for Kashmir militants. On a tip-off from her, they netted Shabir Ahmad Dar, head of the Kashmir Awareness Bureau, and recovered money and propaganda material from him.
“I want to clarify that the money confiscated by Delhi police from our office in Delhi was to be used for day to day office expenses,” Bhat said.
He also appealed to Delhi-based diplomats to “focus attention on the mounting government pressure to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris who are demanding freedom”.
Bhat said the Hurriyat had opened its awareness bureau in Delhi in the presence of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and former home minister Indrajit Gupta with the sole objective “to inform and educate the people of India that the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved peacefully”.
He said the government could arrest anybody but “the arrests and intimidation would only harden attitudes and not lead us anywhere”.
Hoping that good sense would prevail in Delhi soon and Habib freed, Bhat added: “The government is misusing various laws to put Hurriyat leaders under detention. Unfortunately, the mounting pressure is in the interest of nobody — India, Pakistan or Kashmiris.”
Today, Kashmir police again raided Habib’s house in Dangerpora in Anantnag district and reportedly found incriminating documents. The house was later sealed under the anti-terror law.