Court frames terror charges against PDP leader Waheed Parra
Srinagar: A special court has framed terror charges against Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, a senior PDP leader and close aide of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, based on a police charge-sheet claiming that he was “an asset for Pakistan-based terror groups”and that his 13-year journey as a journalist and politician from 2007 was a “saga of subterfuge, deceit and double-dealing”.
The court had heard arguments on the framing of charges from the defence and the prosecution earlier this month and it allowed framing of charges against Parra, who is alleged to have established a “nexus with terrorists”.
“He sought support from terrorists for political gains and reciprocated by providing a range of help which led to terror strikes,” claims police.
The eight-page order made available on Monday stated that “prima facie there is sufficient evidence against the accused for alleged commission of offences under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code.”
The special NIA judge charged him with “being a member of a terror group”, raising funds for them as well as aiding an outfit. He was also charged under sections related to waging of war against the country, spreading disaffection against the government and criminal conspiracy.
“I have gone through the police report as well as the statements of the witnesses of the prosecution and have applied my mind into the present facts and circumstances levelled in the police report…as well as statements of the witnesses and the digital evidence against the accused, there is sufficient evidence against the accused for alleged commission of offences…,” the judge said in his order.
With the help of five protected witnesses and technical intelligence, the Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK), a wing of the CID Department, submitted a charge-sheet before the court alleging that Parra was “hand in glove with terrorists to further the agenda of Pakistan-based terror groups and also to ensure that his political adversaries are neutralised.”
The 19-page charge sheet, with hundreds of pages of annexures, has given instances of his “attempts to eliminate political opponents and to help his party leaders by paying terror groups to swing the electoral battle in his party’s favour.”
His lawyer Shariq Reyaz has denied all these charges and said that he would contest the order against his client.
The charge-sheet has highlighted his links to Pakistan-trained Abu Dujana and Abu Qassim, who were killed in separate encounters with security forces, and went on to allege that he used to meet them personally as well as through Over Ground Workers (OGWs).
The police tracked his journey from 2007 when he went to Pakistan and interviewed banned Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief Syed Salahuddin and broadcast it on his local media channel which was being operated from Pulwama, his home district in south Kashmir.
Parra joined the PDP in 2013 and “once ensconced in the safety of a recognised political party…, the accused systematically went about strengthening himself by craftily deepening his roots on two sides of the divide — India and Pakistan”.
“…Parra had the permission of the Pakistani establishment to keep throwing crumbs at India, allowing them petty tactical gains and systematically pushing the overall situation, slowly but surely, in favour of Pakistan in a strategic sense. What played out over 13 years (2007-2020) was a saga of subterfuges, deceit and double meaning,” the charge-sheet alleged.
The CIK, which is mandated to probe cases under the UAPA and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), took sanction for Parra’s prosecution from the Jammu and Kashmir Home department under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The CIK had filed a case last year against unknown politicians and others based on “reliable and confidential sources” who said some political functionaries were misusing their power and helping militants.
In March this year, Parra was charge-sheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and it was alleged that the PDP youth leader had paid Rs 5 crore to the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for keeping Kashmir in turmoil after the death of Burhan Wani, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, in 2016.
The NIA accused Parra, who was arrested last November, of “being involved with banned terrorist groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Taiba”.
The NIA alleged that after the death of Wani, who was killed in an encounter with the Army in July 2016, Parra got in touch with Altaf Ahmad Shah, alias Altaf Fantoosh, and asked him to ensure that the Valley was kept on the boil with widespread unrest and stone-pelting.
In January this year Parra was granted bail by the NIA court, which said there was no reference to him in the original as well as the supplementary charge-sheets presented in July and October last year respectively.
However, he was arrested by the CIK in the case related to nexus between mainstream politicians and secessionists, and he continues to be in jail since then. His bail was rejected by the NIA court in Srinagar.