Today: Jun 20, 2024

Terror funding case: Delhi HC lists Zahoor Watali plea against charges framed on August 3

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday listed for August 3, 2023, Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali’s plea challenging charges framed by the trial court against him in a terror financing case being investigated by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The Division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh on Tuesday while deferring the matter said, “Let reply be filed by the NIA. List along with other connected matters on August 3”.

Watali was arrested by the NIA in 2017 under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a case pertaining to terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Last year in May, the NIA Court (trial court) had framed charges against Watali and others under various sections of IPC and UAPA.

The court had formally framed the charges against Kashmiri separatist leaders including Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, Mohammad Yusuf Shah, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Mohammad Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, and Naval Kishore Kapoor.

Separatist leader Mohammad Yasin Malik had pleaded guilty to all charges, including those under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), before the NIA court in the same case. Later he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The charge-sheet was also filed against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who have been declared proclaimed offenders (PO) in the case, by the NIA court.

The bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh in March month had issued notice to the NIA in the matter.

According to the NIA, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali alongwith others were the “fund-raisers and financial conduits”.

According to the NIA chargesheet, “the investigation revealed that the secessionists were mobilizing funds from all possible sources to fuel unrest and support the ongoing secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir.

“The secessionists were getting funds from Pakistan, funds from. Pakistan-based terrorist organizations and local donations.”

During the investigation, “a document was seized from the house of Ghulam Mohammad Bhatt which shows that Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed (head of Jamat-ud-Dawa) and was remitting the same to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone pelters of J&K,” said the NIA.