July 2017 News

Geelani's Son-in-law, 6 Others Held For Funding Valley Unrest

24 July 2017
Times of India
Neeraj Chauhan

New Delhi: In a big crackdown on separatists in J&K, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested seven Hurriyat activists, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani's son- in law, for allegedly bankrolling stone-pelting and other subversive activities in the trouble-torn Valley. Altaf Ahmad Shah ' Fantoosh', son-in-law of Geelani, along with other associates of the separatist patriarch, have been accused of bringing money from Pakistan by misusing LoC barter trade and through the hawala route, to fund the unrest which has claimed scores of lives, including those of security personnel. The arrests, which instantly triggered a shutdown call by Hurriyat, were being seen as evidence of the Centre's tough stance, as well as its refusal to hold talks with Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah as is being urged by many in the opposition and civil society activists. Associates of Mirwaiz and Shah are also among those who were arrested on Monday morning. 'How can we talk to those who have been exploiting the people of Kashmir Valley for their politics of violence and separatism?' asked asenior government source. This is the first time that a probe agency has linked 'terror funding' directly to the top Hurriyat leadership. NIA inspector general Alok Mittal claimed that the evidence shows the involvement of the Hurriyat leadership in funding, adding that action could be taken against Geelani as well as other separatist leaders. Geelani's close associates Ayaz Akbar Khandey, spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Peer Saifullah were also picked up from Srinagar and brought to Delhi. Khandey is known for issuing bandh calls as well as threats to people in the Valley while Kalwal, a former Hizbul Mujahideen militant, has been accused of organising stone-peltings and processions at Geelani's instance. Saifullah has been a regular at Geelani's place. Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesman of the Mirwaiz-led moderate Hurriyat Conference, and Nayeem Khan, who's closely affiliated with Shabir Shah, have also been arrested by NIA. Farooq Ahmed Dar, alias 'Bitta Karate', a former JKLF militant closely associated with Hurriyat operations, was arrested in Delhi. 'These seven played the most important role in everything that ails J&K. Some of them kept accounts of funds received from Pakistan-based terror groups or other means and stayed in touch with people across the border, while a couple of them worked out the stone-pelting-processions dates-venues as well as the funds required for it,' an agency official said. 'One of them arranged crowds for funeral prayers, or rushed youngsters, already identified and paid for by the masterminds, to thwart security forces when they would verge on nabbing or eliminating terrorists. One member was in charge of cash received from traders engaged in LOC trade or hawala dealers. Basically, these seven decided how much money would be spent on subversive activities as well as, in many instances, terrorists plotting attacks,' said an officer associated with probe. Mittal said arrests were made on the basis of technical evidence, emails recovered during raids in J&K and Delhi, account books of hawala dealers, documents recovered from traders engaged in LOC barter trade at Salamabad and Chakan Da Bagh trade facilitation centre. He said several crores have been received by separatists through different channels, including LOC trade, hawala and in cash to spearhead the violence. NIA director general Sharad Kumar said, 'Hurriyat leaders-cadres were acting in connivance with active militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, LeT and other terror organisations and gangs for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in J&K and for causing disruption in Kashmir Valley.'