India welcomes US blacklisting Kashmiri militant group

Senior leader of Kashmiri militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin gestures as he arrives for a press briefing in Muzaffarabad, on July 1, 2017.
Senior leader of Kashmiri militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin gestures as he arrives for a press briefing in Muzaffarabad, on July 1, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India on Friday (Aug 18) welcomed the United States' blacklisting of Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) as a terrorist organisation.

The US Treasury Department, in a statement on its website on Wednesday, said it listed the Pakistan-based outfit as a "foreign terrorist organisation", freezing its assets "to deny Hizbul Mujahideen the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks".

India's Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters: "We welcome the designation of the Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist organisation.

"All of us are aware of what kind of terrorist activities they have conducted in the state of Jammu and Kashmir," he said, adding it was key to "end moral, diplomatic and material support" to such groups.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, and both claim the territory in its entirety.

Home-grown rebel groups, including the HM, have been fighting around half a million Indian troops deployed in the region, calling for independence or a merger with Pakistan since an armed rebellion broke out in 1989.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir Valley, one of the world's most heavily militarised areas, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Islamabad expressed disappointment over Washington's move, calling it "unjustified".

The blacklisting came after the US State Department designated HM's commander Syed Salahuddin as a "global terrorist" in June, saying that under his rule it committed numerous attacks including one in 2014 in Indian-administered Kashmir which had left 17 injured.