Press Trust of india

13 ‘militancy financers’ in J-K identified: Officials

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New Delhi, Mar 24:  Continuing crackdown on militancy “financers”, security agencies have identified 13 people, including Hizbul Mujahideen founder Syed Salahuddin, Hurriyat leaders and businessmen, “who are providing funds to militants and stone pelters at the behest of Pakistan spy agency ISI,” officials said Sunday.

The Centre has started seizing properties belonging to these financiers in a big way. Thirteen individuals and their properties have been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and action has been initiated, they said.

“Individuals identified during these investigations have been found providing money to all major groups like LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen as also Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir,” a senior government official said.

Funds were provided to the leadership of Kashmir-based militant groups for “misguiding, motivating and recruiting local youths to militant ranks.”

Operational activities of militant groups, including attacks on government forces, camps and convoys, are also being financed, the official said, adding money obtained through these channels are being used by major secessionist formations, especially the Hurriyat Conference.

“These funds are used for maintaining Hurriyat’s top leadership and a massive propaganda machinery to arouse disaffection among the people of Jammu and Kashmir against the Centre.

“It is also being utilised to spread false information through media contacts, newspapers and social media,” the official claimed.

“The official said these are in turn used to instigate and lure misguided youths to resort to anti-India activities, violent street protests and stone pelting on security forces at encounter sites.”

Extensive use of such funds is being made “to finance institutions such as select mosques, madrasas and organisations like recently banned Jamat-e-Islami (JeI)(J-K), for focusing on subverting locals,” another official said.

In the first strike, action was initiated to attach a plush bungalow of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in Gurgaon, the official said. He is, at present, lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Watali is allegedly a “major conduit for funnelling terror finances into India”, the official said.

“Documents seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) indicate that he was receiving money from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, Salahuddin, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan High Commission here,” the official claimed.

“Watali is known to have important sources of Hawala financing operating out of Dubai. Besides him, another 10 leaders were brought into the multi-agency action on terror funding.”

The ED has zeroed in on proceeds of such crime and begun action to freeze and seize such assets.

The ongoing investigation in the first phase has determined and quantified assets valued at over Rs7 crore as proceeds of “terror funding crimes”, the official said.

The 13 identified individuals include Mohammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, “who through Hizbul, has been actively involved in creating unrest in Kashmir and other parts of India,” according to a document prepared by security agencies.

Being a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, “Salahuddin has a wide network of local sympathisers, who act on his instructions and collect funds sent by him to fuel secessionist activities,” it said.

Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Pakistan-based Jamaat-ul- Dawaa, and other separatist leaders of the state, including members and Hurriyat cadre, “have been raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and from abroad through various illegal channels like Hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in J-K.”

During a search at Aftab Ahmad Shah’s (alias Fantoosh) residence in Srinagar, NIA seized various “incriminating documents and during interrogation, Shah confessed that his charter of duties included monitoring incidents, issuing statements, arranging meetings and conferences.”

Shah, son-in-law of senior separatist leader Syed Alai Shah Geelani, was closely associated with JeI (J-K), officials said.

The 13 individuals also include Mohammed Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Akbar Khanday, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Saifullah and Nawal Kishore Kapoor.

“Khan, self-styled chairman of National Front, an organisation affiliated to Hurriyat, was part of the Muslim Jaanbaaz Force and earlier involved in various militant activities,” the document said.

Dar was JKLF-R chairman and is a militant “involved in criminal and anti-national activities since 1990. He received arms training in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1989-90.Khanday is a JeI(J-K) member and trusted lieutenant of Geelani. He knew of anti-India protests in the Valley.”

“Kalwal, a former militant, is a key fund raiser for stone pelters. He collects funds on behalf of Hurriyat and spearheads protests,” the document said.

“Bhat, a former Hizb militant, went to PoK for arms training and was involved militancy cases. He is a trusted aide of Geelani and was aware of systems of fund collection and distribution by the Hurriyat leader to operatives, who indulged in anti-India activities. He has visited the Pakistan High Commission here with Geelani several times,” it said.

“Kapoor, Watali’s close associate, remitted Rs 5.6 crore to Watali for which he has not been able to produce any document,” says the document.

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