The National Investigation Agency (NIA) as a part of its crackdown on Kashmiri separatists that intensified in the aftermath of the ghastly Pulwama attack continues unabated. The investigative agency today took custody of Masarat Alam Bhat, the alleged kingpin of stone pelting and Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League, along with Shabir Shah and Asiya Andrabi. While Shah is the chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, Andrabi heads the women’s secessionist group Dukhtaren-e-Millat. All the three have been taken in for questioning for their roles in terror funding.
NIA gets 10-day custody of separatist Shabbir Shah, Asiya Andrabi, Masarat Alam Bhat. pic.twitter.com/7kSgNAy9gU
— ANI (@ANI) June 4, 2019
Bhat was brought to Delhi on Monday night by NIA from a prison in Jammu and Kashmir where he was lodged under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Today, he was produced before Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Syal, who gave the agency his custody for 10 days.
Bhat was under detention for his role in triggering protests and serial stone pelting in the Kashmir Valley in 2010 for several months. During these peltings, 110 protesters were reported to be killed.
Besides Bhat, the court has also remanded Shah and Andrabi to NIA’s custody till June 14 in connection with a terror funding case that it registered in May 2017.
Earlier, the infamous JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested in the wake of the crackdown against anti-India and secessionist elements in the valley. He was remanded to NIA custody for 12 days in April 2019 and shifted to Tihar jail in Delhi.
In fact, as a part of the same investigation, the NIA had in March issued fresh summons to Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Naseem Geelani, the son of another separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to be present in New Delhi for questioning in connection with a terror funding case.
The NIA investigation attempts to identify other key players in the nexus of the terror funding, stone-pelting at the forces and vandalization of government institutes. The case also includes Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafeez Saeed as an accused. Besides, it also names Hurriyat leaders such as SAS Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Following the Pulwama attack in February, the government had withdrawn security cover of 18 separatists including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Naseem Geelani and 155 politicians and ‘activists’, calling it a ‘wastage of resources’.
Recently there were reports based on an NIA FIR that alleged Kashmiri separatists’ activities were being funded by money from Pakistan-based terror groups and ED was likely to attach the properties of these separatists.