June 2019 News

Masarat Alam Revealed Rift Among Kashmiri Separatists On Funds, Says NIA

16 June 2019
The Hindu
Vijaita Singh

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has levelled fresh allegations against four accused, taken into custody this month, in a case of terror funding in the Kashmir Valley. Masarat Alam, the 'poster boy' of stone-throwers and violent agitations in the Valley, has revealed that there are rifts among the separatists regarding collection and use of funds pumped through the hawala route, the NIA said in a press statement on Sunday. It said Alam revealed in his custodial interrogation that 'Pakistan-based agents route the funds through hawala operators which were transferred to the separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Gilani, chairman, All Parties Hurriyat Conference.' 'Masarat Alam also revealed that there were rifts in the Hurriyat Conference regarding collection and use of funds,' the agency said. The NIA said these revelations were in continuation of a terror funding probe in a case registered by the agency in 2017. The NIA arrested Yasin Malik, leader of proscribed organisation JKLF, Asiya Andrabi, leader of proscribed organisation Duktaran-e-Millat, separatist leader Shabir Shah of the JKDFP and Masarat Alam of the Muslim League earlier this month. All the four accused were taken into police custody for interrogation. They were already behind bars in other cases registered against them by the NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Alam has been in jail since 2015 and Andrabi since last year. According to the NIA, Malik also confessed that the Joint Resistance Leadership and the Gilani faction of the Hurriyat Conference 'collected funds from the business community as well as certain other sources and ensured that economic shutdown and violent protests continue to disrupt the daily life of common citizens in the Kashmir Valley in 2016.' After Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in July 2016, there was wide unrest in the Valley. 'During interrogation, Yasin Malik revealed that he was instrumental in bringing together the disparate factions of the Hurriyat Conference and formed the JRL, which spearheaded the violent agitations in 2016 in the Kashmir Valley by issuing 'protest calendars' leading to economic shutdown for over four months and also caused death and injuries to civilians and security forces during the violent protests,' the NIA said. In 2017, the NIA arrested Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali as one of the main suspects in the terror-funding probe. The NIA then said that Watali is one of the main hawala conduits who used to generate and receive funds from Pakistan's ISI and the UAE and had floated shell companies to disguise foreign remittances for further transfer to separatist leaders and stone-throwers. Andrabi reportedly admitted 'that she had been collecting funds and donations from foreign sources and Duktaran-e-Milat had been organising protests by Muslim women in the Valley.' The agency also claimed that 'Andrabi was confronted with evidence regarding funding of educational expenses of her son in Malaysia from 2011 onwards through foreign remittances made by Zahoor Watali.' 'The NIA has already approached the concerned authorities for providing evidence relating to certain bank accounts used by Asiya Andrabi's son while he was studying in the University,' the NIA said. Regarding Shabbir Shah, it said, 'During custodial interrogation he was confronted with evidence relating to transfer of money by Pakistan-based agents and representatives of All Parties Hurriyat Conference factions to parties affiliated to Hurriyat in J&K.' 'He was also confronted about his investments in various hotels and businesses in Pehalgam, properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag. Evidence regarding many of his benami properties is being collected. He was confronted with some of his personal staff and associates who have provided vital information regarding the sources of fund raising and investment details. Investigation into these aspects is under way,' the NIA said. On May 30, 2017, the agency registered a case against terrorists belonging to Jamat-ud-Dawah, Duktaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other separatist leaders in J&K for raising, receiving and collecting funds for 'funding separatist and terrorist activities' and entering into a 'larger conspiracy' for causing disruption in the Kashmir Valley and for 'waging war against India.' During the investigation conducted so far, the NIA has charge-sheeted 13 accused including Hafiz Mohammad Saeed (leader of Jamat-ud-Dawah), Syed Salahuddin (head of proscribed organisation Hizb-ul-Mujahideen), seven second-rung separatist leaders, two hawala conduits and some stone-pelters.

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