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Police scuttle ‘militant’seminar in IHK

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SRINAGAR: Police in Indian held Kashmir (IHK) said they had detained on Wednesday the organiser of a seminar that was to be addressed by phone by Pakistani militant leaders, including one blamed for the Mumbai attacks.

Ahsan Untoo, the head of Human Rights Forum, a local rights group, was detained in a raid on a hotel an hour before the start of the event in Srinagar. Senior separatist Javed Mir was also taken to a nearby police station.

“We have detained Untoo and Mir. We will not allow the seminar to take place,” a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. The seminar was to discuss the ‘Role of Pro-Freedom Leaders vis-a-vis the Kashmir Issue’ and all separatist leaders in IHK had agreed to participate.

Untoo had said that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of a charity widely viewed as a front for the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, would address the seminar.

India has blamed Lashkar for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that left over 160 people dead, while Lashkar has denied any role in the carnage.

Syed Salahudin, the head of the region’s most dominant militant group Hizbul Mujahedin, which favours Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, was also set to make an address by phone. The former head of Pakistan’s ISI was also to “participate remotely”.

India has accused ISI of funding and arming militants in Kashmir. Kashmir is in the grip of a two-decade insurgency that has so far left more than 47,000 people dead according to the official count.

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