SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has extended its probe in the militant and separatists funding in Jammu and Kashmir and on Sunday detained a Sikh lawyer, who is associated with Hurriyat Conference led by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, after conducting raids at his office and residence in Jammu.
Sources said NIA sleuths conducted raids at the residence and office of Devender Singh Behl, a lawyer, in Baskshi Nagar area of Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, this afternoon.
They said the NIA sleuths thoroughly searched office and residence of Behl, who is associated with legal cell of Geelani’s Hurriyat, and confiscated some records.
It was the second raid by NIA in Jammu in connection with the probe into militancy and separatist funding. Earlier, the NIA had raided residence and office of a businessman in Jammu.
A spokesman of NIA confirmed the raids at the residence of Behl, a lawyer and Chairman Jammu Kashmir Social Peace Forum (JKSPF), a constituent of Hurriyat led by Geelani.
He said Behl, who is a member of the legal cell of the Hurriyat, is a close associate of a top Hurriyat leader.
“He (Behl) regularly attends funeral of slain militants in the Valley,” the NIA spokesman said.
He said NIA was investigating his role as courier as he is suspected to be involved in routing funds to the separatist leaders from Pakistan-based handlers.
During the searches, NIA team has recovered four mobile phones, one tablet, other electronic devices, incriminating documents, financial papers and some other articles, the spokesman said.
Sources said Behl was questioned during the raids.
“After the questioning, Behl was detained by NIA sleuths,” they said.
The NIA, according to sources, has summoned the younger son of Geelani, Naseem Geelani, for questioning on Wednesday.
Geelani’s elder son Nayeem Geelani has also been summoned by NIA for questioning in New Delhi tomorrow (Monday).
Nayeem, however, was today admitted in a hospital in Srinagar after complaining of chest pain.
It is now unlikely that he will visit NIA headquarters in national capital tomorrow for questioning.
A doctor by profession, Nayeem had returned from Pakistan in 2010 after spending 11 years there.
The NIA is probing militancy and separatists funding in the Valley and has already arrested seven separatist leaders Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh (Geelani’s son in law), Ayaz Akbar, Peer Safiullah, Mehraj-ud-Din Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam (Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s close aide and media advisor), Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate on July 24.
They were taken to Delhi, where a court granted their 10 day remand till August 4 to NIA for questioning.
Sources said the NIA sleuths are questioning them and seeking details from them about the funds being used for fomenting trouble and militancy in the Valley.
The NIA had registered case on May 30 against separatist leaders for acting in connivance with militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other groups and woman separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Millat for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means including hawala for funding separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
The separatist leaders were accused of fomenting trouble in the Valley by inciting youth to pelt stones on security forces, burn schools, damage public property and waging war against India.
The NIA had questioned separatist leaders and businessmen in Valley and conducted raids in May and June this year to unearth separatist funding.
The separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded over five months long unrest in the Valley last year after killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, have termed the arrests by NIA as “revengeful, arbitrary and illegal”.
Meanwhile, Geelani was today barred by authorities from conducting a presser on NIA raids at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar.
He later issued a statement in which he denied the allegations leveled against him, his family members and associates by NIA.
“The reports and details of properties prepared by NIA are not based on facts,” he said adding, “Indian authorities are resorting to character assassination of separatist leadership to defame and delegitimize the real representative character of separatist camp”.