J&K : NIA, ED set to attach assets of separatists running into crores

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JAMMU, Aug 28 : Acting tough, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) were understood to have decided to initiate formalities to attach assets of separatist leaders and some businessmen in Jammu and Kashmir, which had been amassed through hawala money and other illegal means during about three decades of Pakistan-sponsored militancy in the Valley.

In a related development, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also sought preliminary report from the NIA on the investigations into terror funding and hawala operations in Kashmir involving separatist leaders and some influential businessmen, 10 of whom have been arrested so far by the NIA and ED.

Official sources told the Excelsior that after preparing detailed dossier of assets owned by the separatist leaders on their own names, family members, relatives, servants etc and benami property, running into several crores, the NIA and ED were now all set to initiate legal formalities to attach some of them for which the investigators have gathered enough evidence to show that they had been purchased from hawala and other sources of illegal funds, sent from across for terror funding and creating unrest in Kashmir.

“The process of attachment of some assets of separatists and businessmen has been initiated,” sources said, adding it has been established during investigations that number of assets owned by family members, relatives and, in some cases, even servants, actually belonged to the separatist leaders and had been purchased during the period of turmoil in the Valley using terror and hawala funds.

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The NIA has prepared list of about 80 properties on the name of separatist leaders including those arrested and examined details of all of them. It has also drafted details of bank accounts of the separatists and businessmen from the leading banks officially.

Sources pointed out that asset details of some of the separatist leaders, who have not been arrested but continued to be under radar of the investigating agency, have also been prepared for initiating legal action.

Pointing out that value of assets owned by the separatists including benami runs into several crores, sources said they were in the form of bungalows, shopping complexes, malls, flats (both within Jammu and Kashmir and outside), orchards, schools, limestone, gypsum quarries, hotels investments made in the businesses of some influential persons etc including housing colonies.

They added that some persons on whose name the separatists and businessmen owned their benami property have been identified and questioned to ascertain source of the money used to purchase assets, which they couldn’t explain.

NIA so far has arrested seven separatist leaders – Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah ‘Funtoosh’, Ayaz Akbar Khanday, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Peer Saifullah (all from Geelani’s faction of Hurriyat), Shahidul-Islam (of the faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq), Nayeem Khan of the Jammu Kashmir National Front and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karatey of J&K Liberation Front.

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and his aide Aslam Wani. The NIA has also arrested prominent businessman, Zahoor Watali.

The NIA had registered the case on May 30, accusing separatist and secessionist leaders of being in cahoots with terrorist groups.

The case was registered over raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including through hawala channels, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in the state and for causing disruption in the Valley by pelting security forces with stones, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India.

Sources said the NIA has been investigating communication records, which have revealed the links of the separatist leaders with some Kashmir youth tracked repeatedly amid stone-pelting mobs during the past one year.

Some telephonic conversations tapped showed connections with stone-pelters, who were in touch with Hurriyat leaders, who are allegedly connected to top separatists in Kashmir.

The records also revealed a pattern that separatist leaders were passing money to local Hurriyat leaders who would pay the youth to pelt stones and unleash mob violence.

Meanwhile, NIA has again called two sons of Syed Ali Shah Geelani-Naseem Geelani and Nayeem Geelani-for questions at its New Delhi headquarters tomorrow. This is the third time that the two sons of Geelani have been called for questioning, sources said describing repeated calls to Naseem and Nayeem as “significant”.

Both of them have already been questioned twice in connection with some assets on the names of Geelani family. Sources said the investigators want to be completely sure before going in for further action in the matter.