US embassy argued against issuing visa to Kashmiri leader

US embassy argued against issuing visa to Kashmiri leader

According to a secret American cable of 2007 made public by WikiLeaks, the embassy strongly argued against issuing a visa to Kashmiri leader Usman Abdul Majid, militant turned counter insurgent who was also a minister in Mufti Mohammad Saeed's government.

"Usman Abdul Majid is a leader of the pro-GOI (government of India) Ikhwan-ul-Musilmeen paramilitary group, which... is notorious for its use of torture, extra-judicial killing, rape, and extortion of Kashmiri civilians suspected of harbouring or facilitating terrorists," says the cable dated June 4, 2007 and marked secret.

Majid was invited by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) -- a Washington-based think tank to attend events beginning June 7.

"In the interest of remaining balanced in our approach to the Kashmir issue following Embassy New Delhi's denial of Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani's visa request, Post recommends denying this visa application as well," recommended the US Embassy in India.

Majid was elected as an MLA to the state legislature in 2002. "Kashmiri paramilitary leader and J&K state MLA Usman Abdul Majid applied for a US visa on May 22nd in order to attend functions held by the United States Institute of Peace starting on June 7th in Washington, DC," it said.

The cable said Majid is a leader of the pro-GOI Ikhawan-ul-Musilmeen paramilitary group, which was formed by security forces to combat terrorism in the Kashmir Valley.

"The group is made up of terrorists who have surrendered to the Indian government and agreed to fight against their former brethren," the cable said.

"Ikhawan has a reputation in the Valley for committing brutal human rights abuses -- including extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists and their family members, as well as torturing, killing, raping, and extorting Kashmiri civilians suspected of harbouring or facilitating terrorists," it said.

"In light of our rejection of the Geelani visa, we will not be able to maintain our record of neutrality in the Kashmir dispute if we grant this visa," it said.

The cable noted that Majid won election easily in the Baramullah district of Kashmir, but added that this was likely because the district has had a minute voter turnout as terrorist groups continue to enforce a boycott of elections.

"This boycott continued in Baramullah even in 2002, when turnout was much higher in other areas. Similar to many of the instances of torture and violence surrounding the Kashmir dispute, Post is unable to verify with evidence the claims against Majid," the cable said.

"Nonetheless, denying his application may have some repercussions with GOI officials, especially those from India's Intelligence Bureau who have been close to his case, it said.
As with the Geelani case, it said, this will be a very delicate matter, but in light of Ikhawan's history, Post recommends that the US government deny the visa.

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