SRINAGAR: In a major setback to separatists in Kashmir, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched inquiry into the funding of separatist leaders including hardline Syed Ali Shah Geelani by India’s most wanted and Jamaat-u-Dawah chief Hafiz Sayeed and other Pakistan-based militant groups and agencies for carrying out subversive activities in the Valley.
“NIA has 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,” a spokesman of NIA said.
He said the NIA has also taken cognizance of news item related to the recording of conversations between TV reporters and leaders of separatist groups operating in Valley.
Sources said a team of NIA officials has reached Srinagar to start probe and question the separatist leaders Nayeem Khan, Bita Karatey and Gazi Javed Baba, who had in an expose by India Today TV purportedly confessed of receiving money from Pakistan government, Hafiz Saeed and militant groups.
During the sting operation by the TV channel, the trio had acknowledged on camera receiving crores of rupees from across the border for fomenting unrest in the Valley. One of them can be heard in the video boasting about burning schools, government institutions, panchayat ghars and police stations in Valley to spread chaos during the unrest last year.
Kashmir witnessed over five month long unrest last year after killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016.
Nayeem Khan is a senior separatist leader and provincial president Jammu of the separatist conglomerate led by Syed Ali Geelani. Bita Karatey is a former JKLF militant, who has spent over a decade in jail, while Gazi Javed is a senior activist of Geelani’s own party Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
Sources said the separatist leaders, who had confessed about receiving huge sum of money from Pakistan, will be extensively quizzed by the NIA officials.
They said if the need is felt, Khan, Karate and Gazi may be arrested and interrogated about their links with Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed and militant groups.
After the TV expose, the separatist leaders have maintained silence on the issue and not issued any statement to clear the air.
It is not known whether the NIA team will also quiz 87-year-old Syed Ali Geelani, who is under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence.