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Posted at: Jun 17, 2019, 6:42 AM; last updated: Jun 17, 2019, 10:26 AM (IST)

NIA: Separatists confess to getting funds from Pak

NIA: Separatists confess to getting funds from Pak
NIA conducts raids in Srinagar. File photo

Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 16

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the funding of secessionist activities in Kashmir, on Sunday claimed that the separatists in its custody had confessed that they received funds from Pakistan through various sources to carry out anti-India activities in the valley.

The Central probe agency said it had substantial proof against four of the top separatist leaders and a businessman, who is accused of being the main hawala conduit.

The NIA had registered J&K Terror Funding Case on May 30, 2017, against militants belonging to the Jammat ud Dawah (JuD), Duktaran-e-Millat (DeM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Hizb) and other separatist leaders in J&K for raising, receiving and collecting funds for funding separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

It also accused them of entering into a larger conspiracy for causing disruption in Kashmir and waging war against India.

During the investigation conducted so far, the NIA said it had chargesheeted 13 accused, including the leader of the JuD, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Chief of Hizb, Syed Salahuddin, seven separatist leaders, two hawala conduits and some stone-pelters. The NIA had arrested seven Kashmiri separatist leaders, their relatives and a businessman in July 2017 for allegedly funding militancy and unrest in Kashmir. They had been lodged in the Tihar jail in Delhi.

According to the NIA investigation, Zahoor Watali, a prominent businessman, is one of the main hawala conduits who used to generate and receive funds from Pakistan, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), UAE. “He (Watali) had floated various shell companies to disguise foreign remittances for further transfer to separatist leaders and stone-pelters in the valley,” the NIA said.

The NIA said significant evidence relating to the funding of these separatist elements through Pakistan and UAE-based businessman, ISI, High Commission of Pakistan in Delhi had been collected and presented to the NIA Special Court in the chargesheets.

In continuation of the investigation, the NIA arrested JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, DeM chief Asiya Andrabi, Shabir Shah and Masrat Alam. All four accused were taken into police custody for custodial interrogation.

The NIA said Malik revealed that he was instrumental in bringing together the disparate factions of the Hurriyat Conference and formed the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), which spearheaded the violent agitations in 2016 in Kashmir.

“Malik admitted that the JRL and the Hurriyat Conference Geelani Group collected funds from the business community as well as other sources, ensuring that economic shutdown and violent protests continued to disrupt the daily life of common citizens in the valley,” the NIA said.

Andrabi, NIA said, admitted that she had been collecting funds and donations from foreign sources. “Andrabi was confronted with evidence regarding the funding of educational expenses of her son in Malaysia from 2011 onwards through foreign remittances made by Zahoor Watali,” NIA said.

During the custodial interrogation, Shabir Shah was confronted with evidence relating to the transfer of money by Pakistan-based agents and representatives of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) factions to parties affiliated to the Hurriyat in J&K.

Shah has also been confronted with his investments in various hotels and businesses in Pahalgam, properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag.

During his custodial interrogation, the NIA said hardline separatist Masarat Alam, who spearheaded protests in 2010, had revealed that Pakistan-based agents routed the funds through hawala operators, which were transferred to the separatist leaders, including Syed Shah Geelani. Alam also revealed that there were rifts in the Hurriyat Conference regarding the collection and use of funds, the NIA said.

The investigation in the terror-funding case is continuing, the NIA maintained.

Case registered in 2017

  • The Central probe agency said it had substantial proof against four of the top separatist leaders and a businessman, who is accused of being the main hawala conduit
  • The NIA had registered J&K Terror Funding Case on May 30, 2017, against militants belonging to the Jammat ud Dawah (JuD), Duktaran-e-Millat (DeM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Hizb) and other separatist leaders in J&K for raising, receiving and collecting funds for funding separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir
  • The NIA said significant evidence relating to the funding of these separatist elements through Pakistan and UAE-based businessman, ISI, High Commission of Pakistan in Delhi had been collected and presented to the NIA Special Court in the chargesheets

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