Pakistan money passed by Hurriyat leaders to stone-pelters, militants, reveal NIA investigation

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is probing the role of separatists in fanning Kashmir unrest has established that the top Hurriyat leadership has been receiving funds from Pakistan, which was then making its way to stone-pelters and militants.

Inspector General of NIA, Alok Mittal, told Firstpost that the investigating agency has identified a large number of stone pelters who were receiving funds from Hurriyat. "We have identified large number of stone pelters who were helped by Hurriyat leaders. As of now investigation has revealed that the Hurriyat top leadership and their close associates were getting money and they would route it for subversive activities," he said.

File image of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. PTI

File image of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. PTI

Mittal said that those indulging in subversive activities including militants and stone-pelters were receiving the funds. He said that the NIA would soon arrest stone-pelters.

The NIA officials said that they have identified at least 50 stone-pelters and their handlers who have been receiving money from Hurriyat leaders. On Sunday, NIA also raided the house of a Jammu lawyer Devinder Singh Behal, who is considered to be associated with the Hurriyat (Geelani) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s party, Tehrik-i-Hurriyat. Mittal said that his role in acting as a conduit to pass funds are being investigated. The NIA recently searched Behal's house, however, he has not been arrested.

According to NIA officials, the investigation against Hurriyat leaders is based on intelligence inputs as well as cases that were registered by Jammu and Kashmir Police six months after the 2016 Kashmir unrest that was triggered by the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani. At least 100 civilians had died and scores of others were injured in the unrest.

NIA officials said that after a preliminary inquiry, a case was registered against the separatist leaders for receiving funding from Pakistan. Investigations have also revealed that money was routed via hawala channels through different conduits from different parts of India as well as outside the country to the separatist leaders in Kashmir.

A total of seven separatist leaders have been arrested by NIA after it recovered cash as well as cell phones, and traced calls of them discussing the strategy that could be adopted to continue the agitation after the killing of Burhan Wani, last year. Officials said that the NIA investigation followed the money trail to find out the "chain of people" who were involved in the unrest.

Among those who were arrested earlier by the NIA included Geelani’s son-in-law, Altaf Fantoosh. The investigation agency has now sent notices of personal appearance to Geelani's sons — Syed Naseem and Dr Naeem Geelani.

The NIA officials are also investigating the kind of assets which “may have been raised by the separatists from the hawala money", and have sought records about the accounts of the educational trust run by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman, Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) as well as Srinagar's Anjuman-e-Auqaf Jamia Masjid, where he leads the prayers.

However, both Geelani and Farooq have denied having received any funds to raise personal assets. Farooq has said in a statement that most of his property including both residential and commercial assets have been inherited by him and his only source of income were gifts that he receives from his religious followers as he is also a religious cleric.

"NIA has been roped in to frame the pro-freedom leadership through fabricated charges into a legal tangle," Farooq said.

The Anjuman-e-Auqaf Jamia Masjid, which has been issued notices by the NIA as well, was formed by Farooq’s late father to meet the upkeep of Srinagar's Jamia Masjid. About 200 shops have been built in its vicinity whose rental income goes to the maintenance and upkeep of the mosque and is distributed among the poor, especially the widows and destitute women on a monthly basis. Farooq owns a house and 17 shops built by his father in Rajouri Kadal in Srinagar City. Farooq has also built six shops in Srinagar’s Lal Bazaar area on his own from which the rent goes to his account.

Geelani has said that the NIA is being employed to defame the character of resistance camp. He had inherited an ancestral house at Dooru in Sopore which is built over four kanals (half an acre) of land and its ownership has been transferred on the name of his wife and daughter. His office-cum-residence at Hyderpora is owned by a trust comprising a number of Hurriyat leaders, while another two-storey house at Barzulla is the property of Jama'at-e-Islami Kashmir, a religious group with which the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) militant outfit identified itself with. Also, the four vehicles that are being used by Geelani are in the name of Tehrik-i-Huriyat, the party headed by Geelani.

Besides Geelani’s son, Syed, who is working as an assistant professor at the Agriculture University of Kashmir, and owns a house on 5 marlas (1,361 square feet) of land at Rawalpora in Srinagar.

Geelani’s elder son Naeem complained of chest pain on Sunday after which he was admitted to the Soura Medical Institute and was scheduled to visit New Delhi for the NIA investigation.

General Secretary of High Court Bar Association (HCBA), Bashir Siddique, said that the association would put up a legal defence against the raids which have been conducted against the Hurriyat leaders. He said that they were only meant to “cause harassment to the leaders here".

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2017 16:31 PM

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