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Terror funding case: NIA files charge sheet against LeT, Hizb chiefs

Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed that Pakistan High Commission officials financed some of the accused who were arrested last year for “conspiring to wage war against the government” by carrying out terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

LeT chief named

The NIA filed a chargesheet against 12 people, including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin in a city court on Thursday. 

The 12,794-page document does not name any Pakistan High Commission official. 

“It does mention that Pakistan High Commission officials were in touch with the accused. We have not named the officials yet but there is evidence that they sent money to the accused for terror activities in the Kashmir Valley,” said a senior government official. 

Asked why separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq had been spared by the agency, an official said, “The investigation against them continues.” The NIA has not once questioned or sent summons to the top separatist leaders since it began a probe in the terror funding case in May 2017. 

The agency said that it has sought permission from the designated court to continue its probe. 

It has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, along with 10 others, for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, it said.

An NIA official said they had gathered substantial material and technical evidence during the probe.

The agency said 60 locations were raided and 950 incriminating documents seized. There are 300 witnesses in the case.

The NIA has also named hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, Geelani’s personal assistant Bashir Ahmad Bhat and businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in the charge sheet. 

Two accused, photo journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat, have been identified as “stone-pelter.” 

Hurriyat Conference leaders Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency.

Protest calendars

The NIA has accused the Hurriyat leaders of acting under the overall guidance of and instructions of Saeed and Salahuddin and their “Pakistani handlers” and plotting strategies to launch violent protests. They communicated these to the people in the form of “protest calendars” released through newspapers, social media and religious leaders, the NIA said. These acts were aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir, the agency alleged.

It claimed a “threadbare scrutiny and analysis” of documents and digital devices seized by it established that the Hurriyat leaders, terrorists and stone-pelters were carrying out “terrorist attacks, orchestrating violence, stone-pelting and other subversive and secessionist activities” in the State. These actions were a “part of their well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched with the active support, connivance and funding from terrorist organisations based in Pakistan and its agencies to achieve their objective of secession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by waging war against the Government of India,” the NIA charged.

 “The investigation based on scientific and oral evidences has conclusively established that for carrying out all these terrorist and subversive activities, the gang of the accused persons is receiving funds from Pakistani agencies through hawala conduits such as accused Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali and others and also raising funds by generating illegal profits from LoC barter trade by doing under-invoicing and cash-dealings,” it alleged.

Bogus firms

The agency claimed that money was also routed through fake and bogus companies floated abroad and remitted to the Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir. “All these funds are then pumped by them into fuelling mass violence and terrorist activities so as to cause damage to public property, disrupt essential services, throwing normal life in the State into chaos with an intention to threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by striking terror in the minds of the public and by waging war against the government of India,” the NIA said.

The judicial custody of 10 accused people arrested in connection with the case ended on Thursday.

Under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the prosecuting agency has to file a charge sheet within six months, failing which an accused is eligible for bail.

The NIA had arrested Altaf Ahmad Shah and Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of the Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-led moderate Hurriyat Conference, Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson of the Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat, and separatists Nayeem Khan, Bashir Bhat alias Peer Saifullah and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal in the case.

Watali, a prominent businessman was also arrested in the case, which was registered after the Valley was rocked by violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight with security forces in 2016.

The NIA also recorded confessional statements on the flow of money, especially from Pakistan, from four people accused in a case related to the funding of terror activities in Kashmir.

 


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 3:41:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/terror-funding-case-nia-files-chargesheet-against-let-hizbul-chiefs/article22462963.ece

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