In a major clampdown, the NIA is likely to question some more separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir and attach more properties it knows have been bought from funds meant to promote terror in the troubled state.
A senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) official told IANS: “The agency has identified the properties of different separatist leaders in the Kashmir Valley.”
The official said the agency had got several leads during its questioning of several people in recent months.
The NIA on Tuesday quizzed jailed Altaf Ahmed Shah aka Funtoosh’s son Anees-ul-Islam about his financial transactions and role during protests in the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in 2016.
Islam is the grandson of Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. Islam’s father is married to Geelani’s daughter.
The official said Islam was also questioned about the players behind the financing of terrorist activities, stone pelting on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments in the Valley.
He was asked to show his financial transactions and give details of his families’ visit to foreign countries.
The NIA last week also questioned the Editor and owner of English newspaper “Greater Kashmir” Fayaz Ahmed Kaloo in connection with terror funding following many articles published in the daily after Wani’s death.
The agency registered cases of terror funding against several separatist leaders in May 2017 on charges of stoking unrest in the Valley.
The case named Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, as an accused. It also names groups such as the Hurriyat Conference factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat.
NIA officials said they have got leads on how the money was routed to separatist leaders through hawala operators.
The agency has earlier arrested Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, who acted as a conduit for foreign contributions to terrorist groups in the state.
The officials claimed they had evidence against Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the Awami Action Committee.
The NIA had questioned him on three consecutive days in April regarding terror funding and sought answers regarding the documents seized from his residence on February 26.
The NIA had recovered letterheads of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jammat-ud-Dawa, Hizbul Mujahideen and other terrorist outfits from his residential premises.
The officials said they were trying to identify Farooq’s movable and immovable properties as well as those of his relatives in India and abroad.
Besides Islam and Farooq, the son of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naseem Geelani, Mohammad Ashraf Khan, Chairman Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Masarat Alam, General Secretary, All Party Hurriyat Conference, and Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement, are on the NIA radar.
The agency on Tuesday attached the Srinagar house of the now jailed Asiya Andrabi, who heads the Kashmiri women’s separatist group ‘Dukhtaran-e-Milat’ (Daughters of Faith) in Srinagar.
Last month, Masrat Alam reportedly told investigators that Pakistan-based agents routed funds raised abroad to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala operators.
These were transferred to separatist leaders, including Syed Geelani.
During Alam’s interrogation, the NIA confronted Shabir Shah with evidence about his investments in hotels and businesses in Pahalgam as well as properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag.
The NIA official said Shabir Shah was also shown evidence related to transfer of money by Pakistan-based agents and representatives of Hurriyat.
Andrabi allegedly admitted that she had collected funds and donations from foreign sources. She was also asked about the educational expenses of her son in Malaysia from 2011.
In recent months, the NIA has arrested several known separatist leaders from Kashmir.