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Kashmiri diaspora body urges release of separatist leader accused of terror finance

By Our Representative 

The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WAF), a Washington DC-based Kashimiri diaspora group, has demanded release of Masarat Alam Bhat, a separatist leader who is in jail on being implicated in a terror finance case. Calling him “the most recognizable Kashmiri youth leader”, (WAF) general secretary Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, speaking at a meeting held to “raise awareness” about political prisoners in Kashmir, claimed, Bhat has been-detained dozens of times “for advocating the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.”
Bhat is known to have transformed from a posh schoolboy -- he is an alumni of the prestigious missionary Tyndale Biscoe School -- to Kashmir’s “most wanted” separatist leader. 
Calling him “a political prisoner” who has spent 24 years in Indian jails, Bhat, 48, contended Fai, “is in jail not because he is guilty of a crime – though he has been charged with a miscellany of offenses under arbitrarily drawn and enforced regulations – but because he believes that the people of Kashmir should be free to decide their own future in accordance with the pledge extended to them under the authority of the United Nations Security Council.”
Bhat, who was an  transformed from a posh schoolboy to Kashmir’s “most wanted” separatist
“Bhat advocates that the people of Kashmir are the party most directly affected by the dispute involving their homeland. Even though, they have made every effort to convey their point of view to the United Nations, these efforts have met with no response. The Indian government has kept Alam in jail for decades on more than 30 charges but never convicted him of a single one,” Fai said.
Speaking on the occasion, Saleem Qadri, introduced as “representative of Bhat”, said, Bhat was detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), but courts have quashed SA against him completely. Regretting that the courts are failing to “get their orders implemented”, he added, this has resulted in his “further victimization.” He added, “The practice of re-arresting detainees like Bhat is very prevalent and that is done either on the ground of frivolous FIRs or by passing of fresh detention orders one after another.”
The participants of the meeting urged the United Nations secretary general to ask Government of India to “release unconditionally all political prisoners, who include Bhat, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrayee, Aasia Andrabi, Naeem Khan, Altaf Shah, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmida Sofi, Naseema Bano and others.” However, there was no word at the meet on repression in Pak-occupied Kashmir.

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