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Rashid’s house was used for storing arms: ex-militant

Monday 27 June 2005

New Delhi, June. 27 (PTI): In a damning revelation, a former top JKLF militant has said that Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid’s mansion in Rawalpindi was used as a "guest-house" and for "arms storage" for the Kashmiri militant recruits between 1987 and 1992.

Abdul Ahad Waza, one of the first Kashmiris to go across the LoC for militant training, has also talked about the involvement of the Pakistani establishment in starting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir by saying that then Pakistani military ruler Zia-ul Haq, had signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with him for recruiting Kashmiris.

Substantiating what JKLF chief Yasin Malik, had said in Pakistan before retracting, Waza has told Jammu-based ’Daily Excelsior’ newspaper that Rashid’s mansion functioned as a "transit camp" for JKLF militants and it was guarded by "men of Pakistani army in civies".

JKLF trainees were lodged at Sheikh Rashid’s "safe-house", trained at Kachgari, given guns and grenades, accommodated back in the "safe house", he has been quoted as saying.

Waza, who first crossed over to PoK in 1987, says that when he went across the LoC for the second time in 1988, he was lodged in the same house along with other members of his group.

Rashid has earlier denied having helped militants, saying he only provide relief to Kashmiri refugees.

"Same armed men in civies, who lodged at the safe house, gave us arms training. It was a seven-hour Toyota drive from the ’safe house’ to the training camp. On return, after 10-15 days of training, they used to lodge us at the safe house, clicked our photographs and sent us back to the valley," Waza said.

The former militant commander, who is now acting Chairman of a faction of People’s Conference separatist outfit, said he had stayed in Rashid’s house "several times" in 1988.

Waza recalls that when he first visited Pakistan, a meeting of his, along with another person Ghulam Nabi Bhat, was arranged with ISI’s Col Assad who eventually arranged their meeting with Zia at President’s House in Islamabad.

"Bhat Sahib and myself had a long meeting with Gen Zia. We signed an MoU," the former militant notes.

"Gen Zia wanted the Kashmiris to take up arms against the Indian rule. He told us that he had helped the Afghans and he would provide every kind of help to the oppressed Kashmiris," Waza said.

He recalls how after returning to Kashmir, he started motivating youth for militancy and sent them in batches across the LoC for training.

See online : The Hindu

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