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Guerilla group denies threat to non-Kashmiri labourers

Srinagar, July 29, 2007:

Frontline militant group in Indian administered Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahidden has denied that it has issued any statement asking non-Kashmiri labourers to leave the Valley.

In a faxed statement to a local news agency, chief spokesman of the outfit, Ehsan Elahi said that Hizb Supremo Syed Salahaudin has taken strong note of the reports stating that the outfit had issued a threat to non-Kashmiri labourers.

“Hizb does not believe in punishing hundreds and thousands for the crimes of a few. Whoever is involved in any crime, be a trooper, labourer, employee, Kashmiri or a non-Kashmiri, has to be punished after investigations,” Salahaudin was quoted by the statement.

“I am appealing all non-Kashmiri labourers to continue their work in the Valley with ease. There will be no problems from Hizb.”

Salahudin said that forcing non-Kashmiris out of the Valley would only give a pretext to “Indian extremist agencies” to harass and force out Kashmiris from Indian states.

He added that safeguarding the moral, religious values and national identity of Kashmir was the collective responsibility of people including lawyers, intellectuals, religious, political, militant and social leaders.

He added that people should collectively work for the eradication of social evils like vulgarity, immorality and cruelty.

Acknowledging that infiltration of criminal elements among the non-Kashmiri workforce was possible “under a conspiracy”, the Hizb chief sought to “expose and force out such elements”.

However he warned about injustice to innocent people.

Salahudin also asked the non-Kashmiri labourers to identify and eliminate criminal elements among themselves, “so that their collective stay is not affected”.

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