Ayub Thakur, President, World Kashmir Freedom Movement
Tracing a Hawala route, Indian intelligence sleuths who arrested
Imtiaz Bazaz, a valley based journalist and two other ISI operatives
in Delhi on 25 May, got wind of Dr Ayub Thakur in Britain.The recent arrest
of senior firebrand Hurriyat hard-liner Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar
familiarized his name to all of those who are interested in happenings
in Kashmir.Dr Ayub Thakur, president of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM) was allegedly sending money through his charity organization Mercy
Universal Production in London to Val Media Corporation floated by Bazaz
in Delhi to finance Hizbul Mujahideen activities in Kashmir.British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw, who was in Delhi recently, said he would look into
India's demand for Thakur's extradition.
Dr. Ayub Thakur
In the wake Geelani’s arrest, government is likely to seek deportation
of this London-based Kashmiri separatist leader Thakur in connection
with alleged funding of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The J&K government
is in constant touch with the external affairs ministry to take up Thakur’s
deportation from the United Kingdom.
Hailing from Kashmir valley, Dr. Thakur began rallying the Kashmiri
youth and students since 1960’s as a doctoral student in Nuclear Physics
at the University of Kashmir where he founded the Students Islamic Organization
Jammu and Kashmir in 1974 and continued as a generous patron until 1977.
He then climbed to the presidencies of the Kashmir University Students
Union and Kashmir University Research Scholars Association. A nuclear physics
Assistant Professor at the University of Kashmir who was expelled as a
Professor in 1980 and later exiled to Jeddah, has now established a Kashmir
Center in London. In London, he says he is galvanizing expatriate Kashmiri
community from both sides of the Line of Control.
Thakur, who himself says that he left his bright career as a nuclear
scientist to work for the Kashmir cause at the international level, defends
himself in an exclusive interview with KAVITA SURI. Excerpts:
You have been accused of being an ISI conduit
for funds to Kashmiri militants.
The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) does not need British soil to
transfer money to militants. It may have many other means across the border
of doing the same if it wanted. The Kashmiri struggle has three fronts:
political, diplomatic and militant. I have been working on the diplomatic
front for two decades for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict
according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people enshrined in the UN Security
British foreign secretary Jack Straw said he would
look into India's demand for your extradition?
I will be the last person to misuse my presence in Britain by violating
any British law. I am prepared for any inquiry under the British law. Mercy
Universal's accounts are thoroughly scrutinized by independent auditors
in Britain, who painstakingly examine thousands of documents and amounts
spent on our projects not only in occupied Kashmir but in India where people
have suffered because of natural and man-made disasters, namely in Orissa
and Gujarat. Mercy Universal extends relief to the poor and needy in Bangladesh,
Pakistan and Somalia. It also helps in raising funds for British charitable
How are you linked with Imtiaz Bazaz?
I have, and had, no links with Imtiaz Bazaz. People in occupied Kashmir(Kashmir
valley) who run vocational training centres for those affected recommended
his name by war. Nearly 1,000 girls would be completing their training
in tailoring and handicrafts this June and Mercy Universal had promised
to donate a sewing machine and handicraft accessories to each successful
trainee. Bazaz was provided funds to buy and transport 800 sewing machines
and other accessories, to print certificates and to make a documentary
on the presentation of these. That was not meant for any other purpose
as cooked up by Indian authorities.
Why didn't you pursue your career as a nuclear
If circumstances in Kashmir were normal, I would have continued research
in nuclear science. My services in Kashmir University were terminated in
1980 and I was imprisoned for my political opinion. I left Kashmir in 1981
and continued at Jeddah University's nuclear engineering department. From
there I came to London and pursued my post-doctoral programme till 1990.
I gave it up to work for the Kashmir cause at the international level.
What is your organization’s role?
Set up on 17 June 1990, it is a political organization working for the
Kashmiri cause of self-determination. It uses all peaceful, moral and political
means within the framework of international legality to achieve its aspirations.
I established the World Kashmir Freedom Movement in London with two-fold
objectives: exposing India's human rights atrocities against Kashmiri civilians;
and, assembling support for self-determination through peaceful political
channels and means. I am also pursuing those lofty objectives as Chairman
of the International Institute of Kashmir Studies.
I had organized a landmark international conference in July 1991 in
Washington, D.C. -- featuring luminaries from the United States Congress,
Britain, and the European Parliament—who called for tripartite Kashmir
negotiations including authentic Kashmiri leadership.
You attended a meeting in Dubai recently where
Sardar Qayoom Khan, president of Pakistan's National Kashmir Committee,
and Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone were present.
Some people link Lone's death to that meeting.
I did not attend the Dubai meeting and have nothing to say about it.
I deeply regret the death of Abdul Gani Lone, whom I regarded a consummate
and bold Kashmiri leader. We have already condemned his killing.
How do you see your self in Kashmir issue?
I am a Kashmiri who yearns for peace in my homeland. Thousands of Kashmiri
men, women and children have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Kashmir
of their dream. I am sure their dream will come true one day. I am also
concerned about the suffering humanity in Kashmir. I find satisfaction
in the charity work that Mercy Universal is doing for the poor, sick and
needy in occupied Kashmir. Nobody can stop me in this task.