Geelani under scanner for alleged Lashkar links

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani may be questioned for recommending a Pakistani visa for a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist arrested for allegedly plotting a terror attack in the capital, officials said Friday.

Home ministry sources said police have found a copy of Geelani’s recommendation letter with Ahtesham Malik, one of the two alleged Lashkar terrorists arrested earlier this week.

‘Geelani may be questioned if needed,’ a home ministry official told IANS.

The separatist leader is known to give recommendation letters to Kashmiris to visit Pakistan. His recommendations commands respect at the Pakistan high commission here.

The Hurriyat Conference headed by Geelani did not deny the visa recommendation letter but said the chairman of the separatist amalgam was not aware of Malik’s Lashkar links.

Geelani’s spokesperson Ayaz Akbar told IANS that a number of Kashmiris come to the separatist leader for Pakistani visa recommendation but ‘it’s not possible to know about their activities there’.

‘They seek recommendation to visit Pakistan, to study or visit relatives there. How do we know what they want to do there?’ Akbar asked. ‘Delhi Police are known to cook up stories about Kashmiri youth.’

Geelani, who is in Delhi at a relative’s residence, also denied knowing about Malik’s links with the Pakistan based terror outfit.

‘I don’t know of his links to Lashkar. He had a legal passport. When I give recommendation letter on humanitarian grounds I don’t check more. It’s a conspiracy against me,’ he said.

According to Delhi Police, the 24-year-old Malik was in Pakistan last summer. He went on a valid passport – which police said was a new Lashkar strategy of sending recruits from the Kashmir Valley to Pakistan, with legal papers for ‘arms and explosives training’.

The police said he was trained at a Lashkar camp to make bombs.

Malik and his accomplice Shafaqat, both Kashmiri men, were arrested from Tughlaqabad in south Delhi. Their third co-conspirator Tauseef Ahmad Pir, Malik’s cousin, was picked up from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.

Police alleged that three Kashmiris were planning multiple strikes in Delhi.