SRINAGAR: In a major crackdown on separatists and their associates, National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday raided at least 14 locations including residences of separatists and top businessmen in Valley in connection with probe into funding of separatist groups for carrying out subversive activities and fomenting trouble in the Valley.
Rs 70 lakhs cash, laptops, pen drives, property documents, letter pads of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba were seized during day long swoop.
The NIA teams conducted raids on the residences of separatist leaders, their associates and top businessmen of Valley from early this morning, officials said.
They said the raids continued throughout the day.
The NIA teams, which had been camping in Valley, were assisted by police and paramilitary CRPF personnel during the raids.
Most of the raids took place in uptown Srinagar and police and CRPF men managed the outer cordon during these raids.
“The cops were not allowing anybody to enter or leave the house during the raids,” they said.
Among those whose residences were raided included separatist leaders Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bita Karatey and Gazi Baba, who during a recent sting operation of a TV channel had acknowledged of receiving funds from Pakistan for fomenting trouble in the Valley.
The residence of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani’s son in law and businessman Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantosh, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s media advisor Shahid-ul-Islam, Geelani’s party Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leaders Mehraj Kalwal and Ayaz Akbar and leading businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali were searched.
Besides, residences of many other second rung separatist leaders and some other businessmen were also raided during the day-long swoop by NIA teams.
The marriage of Watali’s son in Srinagar in 2011 was attended by former Prime Minister of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) Sultan Mehmood Choudhary and then J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Today’s simultaneous multiple raids was for the first time after eruption of militancy in the State that any central investigation agency carried out raids on residences of separatist leaders and business to investigate funding to separatists.
In 2002, Income Tax department had carried out searches on residences of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and some other separatist leaders. However, no criminal case was registered.
A spokesman of NIA said cash, property related documents, letterheads of banned Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, pen-drives, laptops, and other incriminating documents were seized from the accused during the searches.
He said fresh locations revealed during the questioning of the inmates will also be searched.
Sources said about Rs 60-70 lakh were seized during the raids in the Valley.
The raids took place after questioning of three separatist leaders Nayeem, Dar and Baba in New Delhi and Srinagar.
The trio during a sting operation by a TV channel had acknowledged of receiving money from Pakistan government, Hafiz Saeed and militant groups for fomenting unrest in Valley and creating chaos by burning schools, government institutions, panchayat ghars and police stations.
After their revelation, NIA had on May 19 registered a preliminary inquiry into funding of Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bita Karatey, Gazi Javed Baba and others in Jammu and Kashmir by Hafiz Saeed and other Pakistan based militant groups and agencies to carry out subversive activities in Kashmir and damage public property, stone pelting on the security forces, burning of schools and other government establishments.
Source said preliminary inquiry has now been converted into an FIR against Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and other Pakistan-based militant groups.
“The FIR was registered under sections 120, 120 (b), 121, 121 (a) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 13, 17, 18, 20, 38, 39, 40 of unlawful activities prevention act (UAPA). It names Hafiz Syed, woman separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat and militant outfits Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Toiba figure,” they said.
The FIR, according to sources, does not name any of the separatist leaders.
Senior PDP leader and J&K Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari said central government and State government were on same page about raids carried by NIA in the Valley.
He said the law will take its own course.
Meanwhile, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik in a joint statement said raids conducted by NIA and hype and sensationalism around it shows the desperate attempt by Government of India (GoI) to discredit the separatist leadership and in turn discredit the people's freedom movement.
They said raiding residences and implicating separatist leadership in false cases is a futile exercise to conceal and hide their war crimes.
“Indian government is frustrated to the extent that they frame and arrest separatist leaders and activists on the pre-planned psychological crackdown so that they surrender and stop voicing the sentiments of their nation. All these state sponsored tactics won’t deter us from pursuing our mission nor these coercions, suppressive and aggressive measures will make us to surrender,” they added.