Press Trust of india

NIA questions Mirwaiz for second day

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New Delhi, Apr 09: Hurriyat-M chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq Tuesday appeared before the National Investigation Agency for the second consecutive day for questioning in connection with a case related to funding of militant groups and separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here.

Mirwaiz came to the NIA headquarters under police protection and was questioned on the matter of funding of his own party -- Awami Action Committee -- and Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of several separatist organisations, the officials said.

The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of militant activities, pelting of stones on government forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments.

The case names Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), believed to be the front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused. It also names organisations such as Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat.

Ahead of his appearance before the NIA, the Hurriyat Conference chairman tweeted, "In Delhi today with my colleagues for the NIA summon, efforts to malign leadership for its political stand won't work. Inspite of harassment Hurriyat will continue to seek peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. Urge people back home to stay calm and peaceful."

Pertinently, Mirwaiz has in the past engaged with the NDA and UPA-led governments for talks to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.

The NIA had on February 26 carried out searches at premises of several leaders, including Mirwaiz’s.

The probe agency questioned two maternal uncles of the Mirwaiz, Maulvi Manzoor and Maulvi Shafat, and his close aides last year. Both Manzoor and Shafat are retired senior government officers.

Mirwaiz had informed the NIA that he was not acquainted with the subject matter of the FIR referred to in its notice and also added that the notice appears to have been issued on the basis of "fallacious assumptions and misinformation solely aimed at maligning" him.

"Appearance of Mirwaiz before the NIA proves the government's determination to establish that Kashmiri separatist leaders will have to be held accountable to the law of the land. It has paved the way for thorough investigation into charges of terror funding and conspiracy against the Hurriyat leader," a Home ministry official said.

The questioning of Mirwaiz by the NIA has been considered a significant development as he had initially chosen to not respond to the NIA summons, and later said that he was ready to be examined by NIA in Srinagar.

"However, eventually he had to follow the summons and travel to New Delhi to answer questions from the NIA. This is in line with the government's firm stance that separatist leaders cannot claim immunity and that they will be held accountable for laws of the land," the official said.

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