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Britain deports Hashim Qureshi

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON, MAY 29. The British Government on Friday deported a Kashmiri separatist leader within hours after he arrived here from Amsterdam to attend a conference on Jammu and Kashmir at the invitation of the International Kashmir Alliance (IKA).

Hashim Qureshi, founder-leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, who provoked international condemnation when he hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore in 1971, was detained at the Heathrow airport and interviewed at length by immigration authorities before being handed a letter from the Home Office denying him entry into the United Kingdom.

It said the Secretary of State for Home, David Blunkett, had "personally directed" his "exclusion" from the U.K. in public interest.

Mr. Qureshi, who was travelling on a Dutch passport, was forced to return to Amsterdam where he lives currently.

There was no official comment from the Home Office but sources suggested that the move might have been prompted by his involvement in activities regarded as not conducive to public good under the new terrorism law.

A spokesman of the Indian High Commission said he had no information. "If it is true, the decision must have been taken on the basis of the British Government's own security perceptions. We were not involved in the process," he said.

Mr. Qureshi's son, Junaid, who stayed on in London to attend the conference claimed that his father was detained for "three to four hours" at Heathrow before being given deportation orders.

"It is a gross violation of human rights and his right to freedom of movement under the European convention on human rights. There is no justification for the way he has been treated," he said, adding that his father had never been "criminally charged" in Britain for any offence.

He said Mr. Qureshi was no longer associated with the JKLF and chaired the Srinagar-based Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party which believed in a "non-violent" campaign.

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