March 2002 News

J&K ultras thrive on Hawala funds

31 March 2002
The Statesman
Kavita Suri

Jammu: Plagued with acute funds crunch, militant groups in the state have been relying on hawala money. Following their SOS to mentors across the border, there has been a tremendous increase in hawala transactions. Over the last two months, security forces have seized Rs 3 crore flown into the state via hawala deals or other transactions. The recent recovery of $100,000 from Shamima Khan in Kud and the subsequent arrest of Yasin Malik is not the first incident of its kind in the state. Billions of rupees have been pumped into J&K over the years to boost militancy. Malik’s arrest has caused uproar because for the first time, a VIP has been directly linked to the illegal transactions. In the initial years of militancy, Mohammed Qasim Andrabi, husband of Aasiya Andrabi, Dukhteran-e-Millat chief, was arrested at a New Delhi airport with Rs 44 lakh. Five Kashmir Mass Movement activists were arrested in New Delhi with Rs 30 lakh. A few years ago, Hurriyat leader Mr Abdul Gani Lone was in news after a vegetable vendor was arrested outside his house in Srinagar and Rs 50 lakh seized from his bank account. The money allegedly belonged to Mr Lone and had arrived through a hawala deal. It was meant to be distributed among cadres of the Al Burq militant group. In 1991, one Shahbuddin Gouri was arrested in Delhi along with a Kashmiri militant and Rs 50 lakh was seized from them. In 1996, the home ministry had sent letters to Hurriyat leaders asking them to clear their stand on the hawala transactions in which they were reportedly involved. None of them responded. DIG (Kashmir Range) Dr SP Vaid said Rs 1.25 crore had been seized from militants in last November and December. The DIG said: “We seized Rs 50 lakh from a militant. We recovered Rs 60 lakh from another Al Badr militant and Rs 20 lakh was seized in another case.” Recently, in Kathua, police seized hawala money worth Rs 20 lakh from a person who had concealed it in his car. Police admit many hawala transactions are not intercepted. Over the last two months, security forces had received information about two hawala transactions but failed to arrest the persons involved. Besides hawala deals, money is flowing into the state through militants infiltrating across the LoC and the IB. Mr RS Bhullar, DIG BSF, said currently militants are heavily dependant on hawala money flowing in from Mumbai, Karnataka, Nepal and Delhi. Security forces were fearing that faced with a funds crunch, militants would resort to looting and extortion. Officials confirmed more arrests have been made in connection with hawala deals. Raids have been conducted on houses of businessmen in the Valley. The police believe the ISI has created a strong base in Nepal and most of the hawala deals are being routed through the Himalayan state.


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