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Inside the breeding ground of the LeT
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December 05, 2008 16:46 IST
Last Updated: December 05, 2008 16:47 IST

This residential school boasts of a sprawling campus, dotted with trees, where students go about their regular classes. Its campus includes a farm, a swimming pool and a hospital. It is hard to believe that this is allegedly the breeding ground of Fidayeen terrorists, including those who unleashed terror in Mumbai last week, according to a report in The Gaurdian, London [Images].

This school, located in the relatively quieter and peaceful Muridke near Lahore [Images], is run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is widely believed to be the more respectable face of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

The LeT, a terrorist organisation banned in India, Pakistan and United States, has organised and executed numerous terror attacks on Indian soil. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa has been declared a terrorist organisation by the US.

School authorities admit that though they used to support the LeT, they ceased doing so when it was banned by Pakistan. They still 'morally' support the cause of 'Kashmiri independence', reports the paper.

As tensions between India and Pakistan escalate, the school reportedly tops the list of sites that India is likely to attack, in case it decides to take military action against its neighbour.

Foreign journalists were recently taken for a tour around the campus, organised by the school authorities, says the paper.

"This is a residential and educational complex. This is all Indian propaganda. We let the public know that India is the real enemy. That's why they always point at us," the paper quotes Abdullah Muntazir, Jamaat-ud-Dawa's spokesman, as saying.

The journalists were not allowed to enter the madrasa, the mosque and many other facilities in the school. After the tour, which included a press conference and lunch, the media was kept away from the campus, In spite of an assurance by authorities that the media was welcome at any time, reporters were made to leave after the tour, reports the Gaurdian.

The headteacher informed the reporters that the school followed the national curriculum and students from across Pakistan came here for their education. While the rich students paid their own fees, the school provided financial assistance to poor students.

Mehnaz condemned violence, and added that suicide attacks were forbidden in Islam, said the report.

The tour was probably arranged by the Pakistani authorities after the Muridke school received a tremendous amount of international attention due to its links with the LeT, says the paper.

Officials of the Inter Services Intelligence, which allegedly orchestrates the LeT attacks in India, were conspicuously present during the tour. The 'special officials' insisted on accompanying the journalists back to Lahore, reports the Guardian.

Muntazir dismisses reports of a likely bombing, attributing them to the "hype by the Indian media." "The government of Pakistan and the armed forces will deal with it," the Guardian quotes him as saying.

He told the paper, "The [Kashmiri] freedom fighters are doing their job very well. Their cause is just."

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