J&K : Separatist leaders to be prosecuted under tough terror law

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Coming down hard on terror funding and subversive activities in Kashmir, Ministry of Home Affairs is set to grant sanction for prosecution of nine separatist leaders, including Hurriyat chief SAS Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Fantosh.

As per a report by The Indian Express, The MHA will carry out the crackdown under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and that too within the next week.

Reportedly, Fantosh and eight others were arrested for allegedly receiving funds from Pakistan to carry out terrorist activities and stone-pelting in 2016 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Kashmir.

The development comes after the National Investigation Agency requested the Ministry of Home Affairs for a prosecution sanction.

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As per the report, the sanction, mandatory under Section 45 of the UAPA, is likely to be cleared by next week, failing which the separatists’ leaders will be eligible for bail.

Besides Fantosh, others likely to be named in the NIA’s charge sheet are Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, Naeem Khan, Raja Mehrajudin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmed Bhat alias Peer Saifullah, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid ul Islam, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khandey alias Ayaz Akbar and Javed Ahmed Bhat. The NIA charge sheet is likely to include the amount (Rs 2.20 crore), which was allegedly recovered during searches, and reports from experts on seized electronic equipment and call details records among others. The NIA had, in May 2017, registered a case against separatist and secessionist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

Notably, Hafeez Saeed, Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, the front of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has also been named in the FIR as an accused of funding terror in the Valley.

Watali, arrested after several rounds of questioning, is considered the key behind remitting funds to terrorists and stone pelters, sources said. The chargesheet also likely to mention that the Jammu and Kashmir police had arrested Watali in 1990, when some anti-national activists were allegedly found in his house in Bagat Barzulla, Srinagar.

Watali, sources said, is also accused of travelling on a cancelled passport. According to the NIA, instead of surrendering the cancelled passport to the authorities, he travelled abroad in violation of the law in March 2016

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