August 2017 News

Kashmiri Businessman Watali Arrested In Terror, Separatist Funding Case

17 August 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today arrested a prominent Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali from New Delhi for terror funding and separatist activities in Kashmir. Watali is accused of playing a key role in receiving the funds from Pakistan and then forwarding them to the separatists and even kept account books for it. He is a prominent businessman who has links with mainstream politicians and separatists. His brother, Ali Mohammad Watali, retired as DIG in Kashmir Police and nephew is serving IG in Kashmir Police. A statement by NIA stated said that Watali's arrest followed the searches conducted by the NIA on Wednesday at multiple locations in Srinagar, Handwara, Kupwara and Baramulla belonging to his relatives and employees. The searches have unearthed incriminating material pertaining to receipt of funds by Zahoor Watali from foreign sources and its further distribution to the terrorists and separatists in Kashmir valley for anti-India activities. He was being questioned by NIA for last over 2 months and was staying in New Delhi for the purpose during this period. Watali's residence in Srinagar was first searched by NIA on June 3 during which it had recovered several financial documents related to terror funding apart from land deals handled by him. NIA said that Zahoor Watali is suspected of acting as a 'conduit' for illegally remitting funds to the secessionists, terrorists and stone-pelters. He was earlier arrested in 1990 by Jammu and Kashmir police, when some anti-national activists were found present in his house at Bagat Barzulla, Srinagar. He was taken into custody along with Yaseen Malik, Sajjad Gani Lone, Bilal Lone and others and was jailed for eight months at Jammu. In 2009, Watali was accused of illegal encroachment of a land and assault, and a case was registered against him at Parimpora police station in Srinagar. The NIA statement said that Watali was also accused of travelling on a cancelled-invalid passport despite having full knowledge of its being invalid-cancelled. 'Instead of surrendering the cancelled passport to the authorities, he travelled abroad on cancelled-invalid passport on March 21 last year in violation of the law and again when he tried to do so, his invalid passport was seized at Delhi by the authorities,' NIA said. 'A case was registered against him u-s 420 RPC and sections 3, 12 (1) (a), (b), (c) of the Passport Act at P.S. Ram Munshi Bagh, Srinagar, on the basis of a written complaint given by the Assistant Passport Officer, Srinagar. At present, the proceedings in the case are in abeyance as per the orders of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court', NIA statement read. Zahoor Watali is being questioned by the NIA officials regarding the incriminating financial transaction details and property-related records seized during the searches. NIA said he will be produced before the Special NIA Judge at Patiala House Courts tomorrow. According to NIA sources Watali has house and adjoining land of 1 kanal and six marlas worth 5 lakhs at Katsari village, Handwara in Kupwara district. 'Shops and two marlas land worth Rs 2lakhs at Bhagatpora, Handwara in Kupwara district, land of 15 kanals and 15 marlas at Katswari, Handwara and land of 4 kanals and 2 marlas at Bhagatpora Handwara in Kupwara district with total worth Rs 33 lakhs', they said. Sources said that he has 300 kanals of land at Narbal, House at Tawi Vihar, Sidhra Jammu, flat at New Delhi 10, NRI Complex, flat at L-25-4 DLF City, phase-II, Gurgaon. 'He owns a flat in 23 storey Building at Porchester Place, Westminister Council Area, London, UK', they said. They said he has ply board factory at Industrial Estate Zainkote Srinagar. 'Industrial property at Industrial Estate Shalteng adjacent fruit mandi Parimpora Srinagar. Single-double story house having 20-22 rooms including lobby, in a plot measuring 5 kanal 8 marlas 46 square feet worth Rs 60-70 lakh per kanal at Baghat Barzulla Srinagar', they said. 'He owns Trison Group consisting of Kashmir Veener Industry (Plywood), Trison Farms and constructions private limited, Trison International Commercial Brokers, LIC, Dubai, UAE, NZ International Ajman, UAE, Ittefaq Trading and Logistics (Cross LoC trade), Trison Power Private limited and Three Starr Enterprises (wood furniture)', the NIA sources said. They said that Zahoor is learnt to have bought some properties outside the state in New Delhi, Gurgaon, Punjab also in close collaboration-partnership with PS Gill, former DG Punjab Police. 'He is also learnt to have purchased lands in Ompora Budgam, Ahmad Nagar Srinagar, Zaffran Colony Srinagar and Doodpathri Budgam', they said. 'Zahoor Watali has houses in Dubai and Jammu also besides his house in Srinagar. He was making efforts for a mega power project in the name of Trison Power Limited', they added.