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Kashmiri separatist leader Dr Ayub Thakur critical
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | March 02, 2004 19:36 IST
London-based Kashmiri separatist leader Dr Ayub Thakur is critical and on life support system, close friends and official sources told rediff.com
Dr Thakur has been accused by India of funding terrorism. India had demanded his extradition in 2002 for allegedly funding militancy in Kashmir. In fact Dr Thakur tops the list of 14 British-based Indian businessmen against whom India had sought action by the British government.
One his close friends in Kashmir said doctors treating Dr Thakur have declared him brain dead and are sustaining him till his family is ready with arrangements for last rites.
According to indications available from Kashmir, New Delhi and London, his last rites could snowball into yet another complex stand off between the Indian government and Kashmiri separatists.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a close friend of Dr Thakur, told rediff.com he wanted the body would be brought to Dr Thakur's ancestral village near Shopian. Thakur's wife holds an Indian passport, but the separatist leader holds only British documents.
"He has done a great service to the Kashmiri cause," Geelani said. The separatist leader said he would not personally approach the government because that could 'further worsen the possibility of Thakur's body being brought to Indian side of Kashmir'.
Thakur, a former professor of the Kashmir University, heads the World Kashmir Freedom Movement.
With his death imminent, the Indian government is discussing various options to deal with the situation. An Indian diplomat dealing with Britain said Dr Thakur is no more an Indian and so the government could turn down a request from his family to bring his body back to Kashmir.
"They (the extremists) could use his last rites to inflame public feelings," the diplomat said. The official said the government is keeping a watch on the situation and would take the appropriate decision when the time comes. "The request has to come through our high commission in London," he said.
Dr Thakur has been suffering from serious lung infection for sometime now and had been treated in US.
"If I or any of my associates had the passport we would have been with him now," Geelani said. Passports of Geelani and many of his associates are with the Indian government, which impounded them.