Hurriyat terror financier Zahoor Watali arrested in Srinagar

The National Investigation Agency today arrested Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in connection with the funding of terrorists and separatist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The arrest comes after the agency conducted extensive raids across 12 locations in Srinagar and parts of North Kashmir in connection with the case. Multiple locations in Srinagar, Handwara, Kupwara and Baramulla belonging to the relatives and employees of Watali were raided. The raids unearthed highly incriminating material pertaining to the receipt of funds by Zahoor Watali from foreign sources, and their further distribution to the terrorists and separatists in the Valley for anti-India activities. Earlier, on 3rd June, 2017, the NIA had searched Zahoor Watali’s house in Srinagar and seized incriminating documents pertaining to several financial transactions and land deals. The property documents seized revealed massive cash transactions- both sales and purchases.

ANTI-NATIONAL ACTIVITIES BY WATALI

Zahoor Watali, suspected of acting as a conduit for the illegal remittance of funds to secessionists, terrorists and stone-pelters, was earlier arrested in 1990 by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, when some anti-national activists were found at his house at Bagat Barzulla, Srinagar. He was taken into custody along with Yaseen Malik, Sajjad Gani Lone, Bilal Lone and others and was jailed for eight months in Jammu. In 2009, Zahoor Watali was accused of illegal encroachment of land and assault, and a case was registered against him at Parimpora Police station of Srinagar u/s 447, 147, 420, 468, 120-B RPC r/w section 5 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act. However, as per the orders of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir on 22.06.2016, the investigation of the case has been stayed. Zahoor Watali is being questioned by the NIA officials regarding the incriminating financial transaction details and property-related records seized during the searches. He will be produced before a special NIA Judge at Patiala House Court on Friday.

INDIA TODAY EXPOSE

In May, India Today had done a major expose in which several top Kashmiri separatists were caught on camera confessing to receiving funds from Pakistan. The money was used by separatists, including Hurriyat leaders, to foment unrest in Kashmir. Caught on camera were Hurriyat’s provincial President (Geelani Faction) Naeem Khan, Tehreek-E-Hurriyat’s leader Gazi Javed Baba and JKLF Chairman Farooq Ahmed Dar (Bitta Karate). After the sting was aired, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) swung into action, Naeem Khan, Bitta Karate and 5 other separatists were arrested for taking hawala money from Pakistani sources.