SRINAGAR: Seven separatist leaders including hardline Syed Ali Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah and moderate leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar’s Farooq close aide Shahid-ul-Islam were arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in terror funding case in Jammu and Kashmir.
An NIA spokesman said sleuths of the agency today arrested seven Kashmiri separatist leaders in connection with terror funding case under sections 120 B, 121, 121 A of IPC and sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 38, 39, 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.
The arrested separatist leaders were identified as Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Funtoosh, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s close aide and media advisor Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar, Raja Mehraj-ud-Din Kalwal, Peer Saifullah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate.
The NIA spokesman said Bita Karate, a former JKLF militant, was arrested in New Delhi while others were arrested in Srinagar.
“The separatists leaders arrested in Srinagar would be brought to national capital and all the seven arrested persons would be produced before Special Judge, NIA, Patiala House in New Delhi tomorrow,” he said.
The NIA had registered the case on May 30 this year against the separatist leaders for acting in connivance with militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other militant 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 sleuths had questioned the separatist leaders and businessmen in Valley and conducted raids in Kashmir, New Delhi and Haryana in May and June this year to unearth separatist funding from Pakistan, India’s most wanted and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and militant groups for carrying subversive activities in the State.
The NIA raids and questioning of separatist leaders took place after three separatists Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan and Gazi Javed Baba had in an expose by India Today TV purportedly 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.
Kashmir witnessed over five months long unrest in the Valley last year after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. 90 civilians were killed and over 13000 injured in security forces firing while at least 34 schools were burnt by miscreants during the agitation period in the Valley.
During the raids on residences and offices of separatist leaders and businessmen, the NIA sleuths had recovered few crores cash, gold jewellery/coins, currency notes of Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia, large number of property documents, letterheads of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, pen-drives, laptops, mobile phones and other incriminating documents.
It was for the first time that raids were conducted on the residences of the separatist leaders regarding militancy and separatist funding after eruption of militancy in 1989.
Reacting to the arrests by NIA, senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for shutdown in Kashmir tomorrow.
Terming the arrests as “revengeful, arbitrary and illegal”, they said nobody has been able to establish contact with the arrested people and their whereabouts are unknown.
They described questioning and raids on separatist leaders as “drama” saying, “No evidence was found against Altaf Ahmed Shah, Shahidul Islam, Ayaz Akbar, Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Peer Saifullah in connection with any militant funding. They have been arrested as per the plan of the government”.
However, the three leaders have not said anything about Nayeem Khan and Bitta Karate, who were caught on camera admitting receiving money from Pakistan government and militant outfits for fomenting trouble in the Valley.