In a first, NIA raids Kashmiri separatist leaders over terror funding

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today raided as many as 23 locations in Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana in connection to the funding reportedly received by separatist leaders from Pakistan to spread terror in the Valley.

Those raided by the NIA sleuth include Altaf Fantoosh, son-in-law of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shahid-ul-Islam, a prominent leader of Awami Action Committee of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, businessman Zahoor Watali and some second rung separatist leaders belonging to both Hurriyat Conference and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

In addition, the NIA team raided eight hawala dealers and traders in the national, besides two in Haryana’s Sonepat. The agency has seized around Rs 1.5 crore from various locations in the Kashmir Valley, besides recovering some incriminating documents.

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It could be noted that the NIA – for the first time – has carried out the raids on the separatist leaders in connection with terror funding ever since the militancy raised its ugly head in the Valley in 1990s. In 2002, Income Tax Department had carried out searches against separatist leaders, including Geelani, and seized cash and other documents. However, no criminal case had been registered against them then.

Earlier this week, the NIA had registered FIR against the separatist leaders for receiving funds from Pakistan to keep the turmoil in Kashmir active. Though no separatist leader from the Valley was named in the FIR, separatist organisation Hurriyat Conference, terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, women separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Milat and terror outfits Lashker-e- Taiba mentioned in the FIR. Besides, the NIA FIR mentioned the name of Jamaat-ul Dawah chief Hafeez Saeed. The NIA raids came following the questioning of three separatist leaders — Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar and Gazi Javed.

We had earlier reported that the separatist leaders were under NIA radar for receiving funds from Pakistan-based terror outfits and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The amount received by the Kashmiri separatists from Pakistan in last one year, to keep the turmoil in Kashmir active, could run into several hundred crores. The funds are used for attacking security forces by carrying stone pelting, burning schools and other government buildings.

The Kashmiri separatists, who want to disintegrate Kashmir from the rest of India, claim to represent the “political views” on Kashmir. They depute stone pelters to attack security forces. A stone pelter is generally paid Rs 500 to Rs 1000 every day. This is an open secret that the separatists work in tandem with terrorists operating in the valley.

The separatists are basically superimposing terrorism by radicalising youth with the help of Pakistan. In its annual report for 2016-17, the MHA had stated that the year 2016 saw a change in Pakistan’s tactics following strategy of superimposition of militancy over “civil resistance” through radicalisation by vested interest groups and social media.

Reports quoting officials at the North Block state that the funds from Pakistan, which is directly monitored by Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, comes via gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and other places before it reaches to the separatists through hawala route.

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