SRINAGAR, INDIA – India banned a Kashmir-based Islamist political party called Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) for five years on Thursday, accusing it of supporting militancy in the disputed region that is at the heart of an escalating conflict with rival Pakistan.
A police officer said Indian authorities arrested about 300 JeI leaders and activists in recent days in a crackdown on militancy in the state after a suicide bomber killed 40 paramilitary police on Feb. 14 in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, leading to strikes and counter strikes by the air forces of the two nuclear-armed countries.
Created in 1942, JeI participated in Indian elections for more than two decades before becoming engaged with separatist politics following the onset of militancy in Kashmir in 1989.
It is the third ban to be imposed on the organization, which wants Kashmir to be independent from India.
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs said JeI supports claims for secession of a part of India, and that if its activities were not curbed, it could cause trouble for the country. The government declared JeI an “unlawful association.”
“If the unlawful activities of JeI are not curbed and controlled immediately, it is likely to escalate its subversive activities including attempt to carve out an Islamic State out of the territory of Union of India by destabilizing the government established by law,” a ministry statement said.
JeI did not respond to calls by Reuters seeking comment.