Kashmir terror funding case: NIA probes separatist leaders' role in funding youths' training in Pakistan

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing allegations that separatist leaders were receiving funds from Pakistan and were using the money to fuel unrest in the Valley. In a fresh crackdown, the Agency on Wednesday conducted raids in Srinagar and north Kashmir. The probe revealed that separatist leaders were funding the Valley youths' professional training, including engineering and MBBS courses, in Pakistan.

This revelation comes after Hurriyat leaders admitted that many Valley youth, including relatives of some employees working with local newspapers, got recommendations from separatist leaders to get admissions in Pakistani medical colleges.

NIA. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to top government sources, the NIA carried out the raids at 12 locations, including the residence of one of the drivers of businessman and hawala dealer, Zahoor Ahmad Wattali, in Handwara, whose son is pursuing MBBS in Pakistan since 2014.

Many of the separatist leaders, including Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, have recommended hundreds of youth for training in Pakistani educational institutions. However, some of the separatist leaders have also disclosed that they issued recommendation letters in favour of relatives of some employees of local newspapers.

Sources revealed that the niece of a general manager of a Srinagar based English daily as well as that of an employee of a local Urdu newspaper were sent to Pakistan with the funding.

Inspector general of NIA, Alok Mittal, said that the investigating agency carried out raids at multiple locations in Kashmir as part of its investigations "to probe the role in funding terrorism in Kashmir". "The raids were carried out at business and residential premises of the relatives and employees working with Wattali," he said.

According to sources, the raids continued till late on Wednesday evening at the residence of a project manager of industries and commerce department, Ghulam Nabi Peer, in Tangmar and one Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, who was working in a plywood factory owned by Wattali. Raids were also carried out at the residence of Ghulam Ahmad Rather of Handwara, whose son Firdous Ahmad Rather has also been pursuing MBBS in Pakistan since 2014. Sources also said that raids were carried out at the residence of Abdul Aziz Mir of Handwara, who worked as a machine man on Wattali's saw mill.

Peer works as a project manager in the District Industries Centre (DIC) Baramulla, and sources said that the NIA is ascertaining business links between him and Wattali. "We are investigating the trail of transactions that took place between the separatist leaders and the people who are under scanner," said sources.

The NIA has also accessed the recommendation letters which were issued by the separatist leaders to the youths, which they produced before the Pakistani High Commission. Sources added that the investigating agency has arrested seven separatist leaders, including the Hurriyat (M) media advisor, Shahid-ul-Islam, who also enjoyed police security cover at his Srinagar residence.

The investigating agency has asked the functionaries of Jamia Masjid Srinagar to furnish details of its audited accounts as it is investigating if the "money raised through public donations" could have been used to fan the unrest in Kashmir. They have also sought property details of the separatist leaders as well as their relatives and the educational institutes which are being run by them.

Meanwhile, separatist leaders including Mirwaiz have described the raids as "means of harassment" and have urged that the Government of India should start a dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists.

While admitting that Mirwaiz had recommended many a youth for training in Pakistani colleges, the secretary of Awami Action Committee (AAC) Syed Rehman Shams said that they have been studying in the Pakistani institutions as part of the neighbouring country's policy to offer educational opportunities to Kashmiri youth.

"Yes, Mirwaiz Saheb has been recommending youth, but there is no harm if people go to seek education in Pakistan. The Government of India is only trying to suppress and harass us," he said.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 07:24 AM

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