Kashmiri rights activist arrested

Published April 22, 2010

SRINAGAR, April 21 Police on Wednesday arrested a rights activist for inviting Pakistan-based leaders of alleged militant groups to address by telephone a conference in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The leaders invited to speak were Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group, whom India accuses of masterminding the 2008 commando-style assault in Mumbai that killed 166 people, and Syed Salahuddin, chairman of United Jihad Council.

Police raided the conference hall in a Srinagar hotel an hour before it was to begin and arrested Ahsan Untoo, chairman of Human Rights Forum Jammu-Kashmir, said Farooq Ahmed, a top police officer.

Ahmed said Untoo was arrested for supporting and promoting the ideology of militant leader Saeed. “It's unacceptable,” he said.

Police also detained four others, including Javaid Ahmed Mir, a senior separatist leader.

Untoo said the police action violated his right of freedom of expression as he had organised the conference to discuss unity among separatist groups.

“They (Saeed and Salahuddin) were not the only people to speak, but guests included top human rights defenders and separatist leaders from our side of Kashmir as well,” Untoo told journalists as the police took him away.—AP

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