After slapping FIR, NIA raids ancestral home of Jammu lawyer with Hurriyat links

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JAMMU : The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday raided the ancestral home of Jammu and Kashmir advocate Devender Singh Behal, who was arrested here a day earlier over his links with hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Behal’s ancestral house is located in Nowshera town in Rajouri district.

As part of its crackdown on Kashmiri separatist leaders for their alleged involvement in funding terrorist activities, the NIA on Sunday raided Behal’s home in Bakshi Nagar in Jammu and took him into custody.

NIA sources said Behal, who is considered close to Geelani and is regularly seen at funerals of slain militants, was being questioned for his role in the terror funding.

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Behal is Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Social Peace Forum (JKSPF), a constituent of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani.

Four mobile phones, a tablet, electronic devices and financial documents were recovered during the search operation on Sunday.

The NIA said Behal was a member of the legal cell of the Geelani-led Hurriyat.

According to the agency, it was investigating Behal’s role “as a courier as he is suspected to be involved in routing funds to the separatist leaders from Pakistan-based handlers”.

BACKGROUND

Advocate Behl is the chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Social Peace Forum (JKSPF), a division of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the separatist political party commanded by Geelani. Apart from this, Behl is also a close aide of the Hurriyat hawk and a member of a legal cell group headed by Geelani. According to the anti-terror probe agency, Behl also regularly attends funeral processions of militants. He is also known to have hosted separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah at his residence in Jammu.

In his mid 40s, Behl is also believed to be a dealer of electrical items. A native of Nowshera in Rajouri district of Kashmir, Behl, living with his wife and two daughters, settled in Jammu around 20 years ago. He visited Pakistan in 2013 where he was allegedly arrested for attempting to go to Mirpur without permission. Apart from participating in events organized by separatist leaders, he also uses social media to accuse security forces of violating human rights in the valley. After Burhan Wani died in an encounter, Behl had supported separatists’ demand for “azadi” on social media.

While being taken away by the officials of the NIA, Behl reportedly said,