For the NIA the arrest of prominent businessman from Jammu and Kashmir, Zahoor Watali was a major shot in the arm. Watali has been accused of being a bridge between the ISI and the Kashmir separatists when it came to moving funds in a bid to spread terror and cause unrest.
Who is Zahoor Watali and why is his arrest so crucial to the case?
- Zahoor Watali is a businessman from Srinagar
- He was a driver with Abdul Ghani Lone, the late Hurriyat leader
- Zahoor Watali was earlier arrested in 1990 by police when some anti-national activists were found present in his house at Baghat Barzulla, Srinagar.
- He was taken into custody along with Yaseen Malik, Sajjad Gani Lone, Bilal Lone and others and was jailed for eight months at Jammu.”
- In the year 2009, Zahoor Watali was accused of illegal encroachment of land and assault, and a case was registered against him at P.S. Parimpora, 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 June 2016, the investigation of the case has been stayed.
- Zahoor Watali was also accused of travelling on a cancelled/invalid passport despite having full knowledge of its being invalid/cancelled. “Instead of surrendering the cancelled passport to the authorities, he travelled abroad on cancelled/invalid passport on 21 March 2016 in violation of the law and again when he tried to do so, his invalid passport was seized at Delhi by the authorities,” he said.
- “A case was registered against him u/s 420 RPC and sections 3, 12 (1) (a), (b), (c) of the Passport Act at P.S. Ram Munshi Bagh, Srinagar, on the basis of a written complaint given by the Assistant Passport Officer, Srinagar. At present, the proceedings in the case are in abeyance as per the orders of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court.”
- He is being questioned by the NIA regarding the incriminating financial transaction details and property-related records seized during the searches. He will be produced before the Special NIA Judge at Patiala House Courts on 18 August 2017, he added.
- Watali is accused of moving ISI funds to Kashmir
- He has houses in Greater Kailash, London and Srinagar