July 2019 News

Kashmir NGOs, Charities 'with Ties To Pakistan' On NIA Radar In Terror-funding Case

19 July 2019
The Print
Ananya Bhardwaj

New Delhi: A host of NGOs, non-profit organisations (NPOs), human rights and civil society groups based in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad, are now on the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for their alleged role in financing terror in the state, ThePrint has learnt. According to a source in the security agencies, the NIA has charted out a list of these organisations and believes that Pakistan is allegedly parking money in them to fund terror activities in the Valley and across India. Some of them include the Islamabad-based Relief Organisation for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM), the Millat Trust, based in Faisalabad, Pakistan, with its offshoots in Jammu and Kashmir and a Srinagar-based forum that claims to be a non-profit advocacy organisation. The organisations, the source said, have followed none of the procedures required to run them, have ties to separatists and have not conducted audits. 'There is a huge network of these NGOs and trusts that are being run in Jammu and Kasmir and all without following rules and procedure,' the source said. 'There are no audits of these organisations, no details of where the funding is coming from, where they are spending and no record of their donors. In fact, they have not even been checked for FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) violations.' A second source said these charities and NGOs may be called in for questioning. 'We have identified these NGOs and will soon be asking them to join the probe,' the source said. 'Their role in terror-financing needs to be looked into precisely because of so much money inflow, even through hawala channels, from abroad and no records of where it is being spent.' The NIA also has on its radar, a few human rights activist and volunteers including a Pune-based activist-cum-journalist and one from Kashmir. According to the second source, during the investigation, the agency found that the websites of these NGOs and charities had just a few pages of information about what they did and a few photos of them feeding the poor or distributing blankets, with no details of how they are funded and by whom. 'All they ask for is donations with no details on the kind of work they do or if they are registered or recognised,' the source said. The same source also said that in some of the instances they found trustees of these NGOs are directly linked to separatist groups. 'They are all interlinked. It has been found that some of these trusts and organisations are directly or indirectly being run by the separatists,' the source said. 'Also, when we tracked the source of funding, in many cases it was found that that the money was being routed through hawala channels. Mostly from Pakistan via Dubai.' According to a Home Ministry official, these NGO's highlight the 'Kashmir cause' in international forums, paints a critical picture of India and toe the Pakistan line. 'These organisations are being controlled by agents in Pakistan are guided on how to go about criticising India on the international forum and some media organisation based in Jammu and Kashmir, propagate to reinforce it,' he said. While ROKM's website claims that it was founded to contribute to relief work and to provide aid to affected families in the state of 'Azad & Jammu Kashmir and Occupied Kashmir', Indian investigators believe that the organisation is a 'charitable front' of the Jamaat-e-Islami and has been pumping money into India through the J&K NGOs. The ROKM, according to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), is a charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen. The CRA had made the observation in 2018 when it suspended the Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA) for funding groups such as the ROKM. 'The charity claims to work for the relief of affected families in the state in collaboration with donors and Islamic charitable societies in the various Muslim countries but the society that was funding it was suspended and fined by the Canadian government,' the home ministry official said. 'ROKM as a front, however, is still functional.' 'The CRA had also said that the Islamic charity acted as a 'conduit' for many organisations which supports terrorist activities in other countries including India,' he said. 'If this is not terror financing, then what is?'