March 2002 News

Hawala noose tightens on Kashmiri separatists

26 March 2002
The Statesman
Kavita Suri

Jammu: With yesterday’s arrest of JKLF chief Yasin Malik, panic has gripped Kashmiri separatist leaders who have been involved in various hawala transactions in the valley in the past decade. Sources said the arrest of Malik was just the beginning — all those who have been involved in hawala transactions, including several Kashmiri separatist leaders, would soon be in the police net. Apprehending that the Poto axe would also fall on them, separatist and Hurriyat leaders here have gone underground. The Hurriyat chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, who generally visits his home town only on weekends, left for his native village Botengo in Sopore, North Kashmir, today. No important Hurriyat or separatist leader was available till late tonight. The counter-insurgency grid in the valley has acquired adequate proof regarding the involvement of various separatist and Hurriyat leaders in hawala transactions. But the government was awaiting the go-ahead from Delhi for the arrests, sources said. Mr Yasin Malik has alleged that his arrest was a deliberate move by the Farooq Abdullah government. Sources, however, said the nod for the arrest came from the PMO. “At such a significant stage, when the Prime Minister has announced he would be visiting Kashmir, Mr Abdullah would not have dared touch any such separatist or Hurriyat leaders ... it could have sabotaged track II diplomacy,” they said. In the past two months, Intelligence agencies received inputs on money from two hawala deals having arrived at the valley during the two Ids celebrated there. The ISI had used girls accompanied by some men on both occasions, so that nobody could suspect them carrying hawala money. “We were aware about these two hawala deals but somehow, we missed the persons,” said a security official. Agencies have adequate proof that the ISI is sending money through the hawala chain for funding various militant groups such as the Lashkar-e- Taiyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen. They said Nepal was also being used by the ISI for anti-India activities. Though some parts of Srinagar witnessed protests against Malik’s arrest, an uneasy calm prevailed in Rajbagh area of the city. Only Malik’s party cadre, led by his confidante and JKLF vice-president Javed Mir, came to his rescue yesterday.


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