The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Sunday said that Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik, was instrumental in bringing together Hurriyat Conference factions and formed Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) which spearheaded agitation in Kashmir in 2016.
“During interrogation Malik revealed that he was instrumental in bringing together the disparate factions of Hurriyat Conference and formed JRL which spear headed the violent agitations in 2016 in Kashmir by issuing protest calendars, leading to economic shut down for over four months and also caused death and injuries to civilians and forces,” NIA spokesman said.
Besides Malik, Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Hurriyat Conference (G) chief, Syed Ali Shah Geelani comprise of JRL. The central probe agency said Malik “admitted that the JRL and Hurriyat (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 in the valley.”
NIA had registered the case on 30 May 2017 against Jammat-ud-Dawah, Duktaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Toiba , Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other separatist leaders in Kashmir for raising, receiving and collecting funds for financing separatist and militant activities in the state besides entering into a “larger conspiracy for causing disruption in Kashmir and for waging war against India.”
Subsequently, NIA sleuths conducted raids at various locations across Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana and claimed recovery of “crucial” electronic and documentary evidences.”
“Significant evidence relating to funding of separatist elements through Pakistan and UAE based businessman, ISI, High Commission of Pakistan in Delhi has been collected and presented to the NIA Special Court in the Charge sheets.”
So far, NIA has charge sheeted 13 accused including JuD leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Hizb head Syed Salahuddin, seven separatist leaders and four others including businessman Zahoor Ahamad Shah (Watali).
According to NIA, the investigation revealed that Watali was one of the main hawala conduits, who used to “generate and receive funds from Pakistan, ISI, UAE and had floated various shell companies to disguise foreign remittances for further transfer to separatist leaders and stone-pelters in the valley.”
“These funds were used to fuel unrest in the valley, organise violent agitations and anti-India activities which resulted in large scale violence, leading to injuries and deaths of civilians and forces.”
The NIA special court had rejected Watali’s bail plea. However, the Delhi High Court had granted him bail on 13 September 2018. Then, the investigation agency filed an SLP in the Supreme Court (SC) challenging his bail order and the division bench of SC cancelled the bail of Watali as well as Yasin Malik, Asiya Andrabi, chief of Duktaran-e-Milat, Shabir Shah of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party and Masrat Alam of Muslim League. They were taken into police custody for custodial interrogation.
NIA spokesman said that during the interrogation, Andrabi admitted she had been collecting funds and donations from foreign sources and Duktaran-e-Milat had been organising protests by Muslim women in the valley.
“Andrabi was confronted with evidence regarding funding of educational expenses of her son, Mohammad bin Qasim, in Malaysia from 2011 onwards through foreign remittances made by Watali,” he said adding the agency has already approached the concerned authorities for providing evidence relating to certain bank accounts used by Qasim while he was studying in the University.
The agency said that during the custodial interrogation Shabir Shah was also confronted with evidence relating to transfer of money by Pakistan based “agents” and representatives of APHC factions to parties affiliated to Hurriyat in the state.
NIA spokesman said Shah was also confronted about his investments in various hotels and businesses in Pahalgam, properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag and the 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,” NIA said adding the investigation into these aspects is underway.
Similarly, the agency claimed that Alam, during his custodial interrogation, revealed that Pakistan-based agents route the funds through hawala operators which were transferred to the separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
“Alam also revealed that there are rifts in the Hurriyat conference regarding collection and use of funds,” NIA said adding the investigation in the case in underway.