Tribune News Service
Srinagar, June 16
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed that separatists arrested for links with its terror funding investigation had admitted to having received money from sources in Pakistan.
The agency said on Sunday that it had proof against four top separatist leaders and a businessman.
In its FIR on May 30, 2017, the NIA claimed that militants from Jammat ud Dawah (JuD), Duktaran-e-Millat (DeM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Hizb) and some separatist leaders in J&K had received money to fund insurgency in the state. The NIA said the case involved a larger conspiracy to cause disruption in Kashmir and wage war against India.
NIA has charge sheeted 13 suspects, including JuD’s Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin, seven separatist leaders, two suspected hawala conduits and some suspected stone pelters.
Investigators say Zahoor Watali, a prominent businessman the agency believes is the chief hawala conduit who received funds from Pakistan, its spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and United Arab Emirates, had established several shell companies.
“He (Watali) had floated various shell companies to disguise foreign remittances for further transfer to separatist leaders and stone pelters in the valley,” NIA said.
NIA accuses Watali of using the funds to fuel unrest in Kashmir and organise protests and “anti-India activities”, resulting in large-scale violence.
The agency claims that in searches conducted in J&K, Delhi and Haryana, it found crucial electronic and documentary proof that pointed towards the “pattern of raising, collection, transfer and use of funds for terrorist and separatist activities”.
It said it had “significant” evidence in connection with funding of separatist activities through the ISI, the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi and Pakistan- and UAE- based businessman.
Among the separatists arrested in the case are JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, DeM chief Asiya Andrabi, Shabir Shah and Masrat Alam.
The agency claims Malik had confessed to being “instrumental” in bringing together disparate factions of Hurriyat Conference and formed the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), which spearheaded the Kashmir agitations of 2016.
“Malik admitted that the JRL and Hurriyat Conference Geelani Group collected funds from business community as well as certain other sources and ensured that economic shut down and violent protests continue to disrupt the daily life of common citizens in the valley,” NIA said.
Investigators claimed Andrabia admitted to collecting funds and donations from foreign sources.
“Andrabi was confronted with evidence regarding funding of educational expenses of her son in Malaysia from 2011 onwards through foreign remittances made by Zahoor Watali,” NIA said.
The agency said it had approached appropriate authorities for evidence over certain bank accounts that Mohammad bin Qasim, Andrabi’s son, used while he was studying in a Malaysian university.
The NIA said: “During the custodial interrogation Shabir Shah was confronted with evidence relating to transfer of money by Pakistan based agents and representatives of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) factions to parties affiliated to Hurriyat in J&K”.
Investigators say they also asked Shah about his supposed investments in various hotels and businesses in Pahalgam, properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag. “Evidence regarding many of his benami properties is being collected. He was confronted with some of his personal staff and associates who have provided vital information regarding the sources of fund raising and investment details,” it said.
NIA claimed hardline separatist Masarat Alam, who spearheaded the 2010 protests in the Valley, has revealed that Pakistan-based agents routed funds through hawala operators, which were then transferred to the separatist leaders including Syed Shah Geelani.
“Alam also revealed that there are rifts in the Hurriyat conference regarding collection and use of funds,” the NIA said.
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