Attendance at Fais conferences creates ripples here

New Delhi: The participation of Indian personalities in conferences organised by ISI operative and separatist Kashmiri leader Ghulam Nabi Fai in the US has created ripples here.

One of the interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir M M Ansari on Thursday said that participation of another interlocutor Dilip Padgaonkar, an eminent journalist, would be "most unfortunate" if he had known the activities of Fai, who headed the Kashmir Action Council.

Fai was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday from his house in Fairfax in Virginia, an affluent suburb of Washington DC, on charges of receiving hundreds and thousands of dollars from the ISI and using them for lobbying at the Capitol Hill and holding seminars and conferences by inviting eminent journalists and intellectuals from India.

"If it is true that he has known the activities of some such activists (Fai) elsewhere and still he has been doing it, I would say that will be most unfortunate," said Ansari, a former Central Information Commissioner.

Reacting to reports that he had travelled to the US to attend a Kashmir conference, Padgaonkar said he did travel on Fai`s invitation but that was a long time ago.

He did not not have the faintest of idea about Fai`s affiliation with ISI as "Google was not not available then".

Ansari said in Kashmir there was an air of suspicion as nobody believed the other person.

Referring to Padgaonkar`s reaction, Ansari asked "How can you join a conference without knowing the credibility of the individuals and the institutions?"

Refusing to comment further, Ansari said Pagaonkar being an interlocutor and his participation in conferences organised by Fai were not linked.

Meanwhile, Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy said in a statement that he had attended the "now accused agent of ISI" Fai`s seminar on Kashmir in the US Senate Building in Washington in summer of 2003 to deliver an address on the subject.

He said at that time he was teaching Economics at Harvard University and he had called up the Indian Embassy to ask them about the seminar.

"I was told that it was an anti-India gathering but not that it was ISI-inspired. My friends in the US also did not know then that Fai was working for ISI but assumed that a meeting in Senate Building would not be permitted without a security clearance," Swami said.

Anyway, he said, he requested the Embassy to send an official with him to take notes and for consultations, if need be, during the conference.

"It is impossible to know unless briefed who is an undercover agent of a foreign power," he said.