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Charges framed against Hurriyat leader, 7 others for selling Pak MBBS seats in J&K

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Srinagar: A special court here on Monday framed charges against eight persons, including a prominent Hurriyat leader, for selling Pakistani MBBS seats in Jammu and Kashmir to fund terror activities.

Special judge NIA court, Srinagar, Manjeet Singh Manhas, framed the charges against Hurriyat leader and chairman Salvation Movement Mohammad Akbar Bhat alias ‘Zaffar Akbar Bhat’ and seven other residents of Kashmir for committing offences under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The case was registered against the “unscrupulous persons” by the State Investigation Agency (SIA) on July 27, 2020. They were hand in glove with some educational consultancies for arranging admission of Jammu and Kashmir residents in MBBS and other professional courses in various colleges, institutions and universities in Pakistan, officials said.

Besides Akbar Bhat, others accused in the case are Fatima Shah, Altaf Ahmad Bhat (at present in Pakistan), Qazi Yasir, Mohammad Abdullah Shah, Sabzar Ahmad Sheikh, Manzoor Ahmad Shah (at present in Pakistan) and Mohammad Iqbal Mir, who was released on bail because he was suffering from a terminal disease, they said.

The court framed the charges after hearing detailed arguments from a battery of lawyers from the side of the defence and the counter arguments of the SIA, which was represented by a special public prosecutor, in 11 hearings spread over five months, an official said.

He said huge amount of money was received in lieu of such admissions from parents of students, and this was ploughed into supporting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

During the course of investigation, searches in the houses of the accused persons and at other places were undertaken by sleuths of the SIA after obtaining search warrants from the court, the official said.

The documents and other material seized during the search were analysed and it was found that deposits in the accounts of accused persons were made on account of providing admissions in various technical and professional courses in Pakistan, including MBBS, he said.

The official said cogent evidence surfaced during investigation that the money received was passed on to terrorists, stone pelters and over ground workers for unlawful and terrorist activities.

He said during probe, statement of witnesses were recorded and it surfaced that the admissions in MBBS and other professional courses in Pakistan were preferentially given to those students who were close family member or relatives of killed terrorists, on the recommendations of Hurriyat members. They were then received by their counterparts in Pakistan, the official said.

He said it was on the recommendations of the Hurriyat that authorities in Pakistan provided admission in professional colleges to the next of kins of killed terrorist as a compensation to boost morale and keep the pot of terror boiling in the Kashmir Valley and infuse new spirit into the terror fold.

It was further established during investigation that as part of a larger conspiracy, the accused through different Valley-based consultancies without their knowledge used to motivate gullible parents of students aspiring for professional courses, especially MBBS, to apply, the official said.

He said that through these consultancies, they gave assurance of cost effectiveness of courses in Pakistan in comparison to that of other south Asian or Middle East countries.

On the motivation of the accused persons, parents and students often got trapped, he said, adding the accused persons in conspiracy with Hurriyat leaders based in Pakistan and Kashmir were demanding huge amounts of money from parents for getting their children admitted in different technical courses in Pakistan.

Moreover, they also would arrange recommendation letters from Hurriyat leaders and other valid travel documents from the Pakistan Embassy in Delhi to facilitate their visit to Pakistan for admission, the official said.

He said all the arrangements of parents and students in Pakistan were usually done by the accused who are in Pakistan.

The students were made to appear in the National Talent Search (NTS) test at the Hurriyat office in Pakistan as a dupe tactic to make them believe that they were writing a pre-qualifying test which would lead to their admission in professional colleges in Pakistan, the official said.

He said such tests were mostly facilitated by the persons or relative of the accused persons who had ex-filtrated to Pakistan in the 1990s to get illegal arms training and are settled in Pakistan or Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They are using their Kashmir-based contacts to further aid and abet terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

During investigation it came to fore that the accumulated money was ploughed into militancy and to create law and order problems by disturbing peace, damaging public property, striking terror among the common masses and creating potential threat to the sovereignty of India, he said.

The official said money raised through this process,  as a token of incentive, was also distributed among families of killed terrorists and families of active militants to boost their moral and carry forward anti-national, subversive and radical activities against India.

The central government has issued notifications that professional degrees such as, MBBS and other technical courses obtained from Pakistan will not be recognized in India.

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