NIA lodges PE against Kashmir separatist leaders

AMMU, May 19: In a major step aimed towards unearthing hawala connections of separatist leaders, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) today registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against four of them and initiated probe to unearth hawala channels in Pakistan, Gulf nations and New Delhi etc, who had funded them for fomenting trouble in the Kashmir valley especially the unrest.
Four separatists, who have been named in the PE lodged by the NIA, included hardliner Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan, Gazi Javed Baba and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate.
Immediately after registration of the PE, a team of the NIA reached Srinagar this evening for investigations and questioning of the separatists as well as some persons, who were connected with hawala racket of the separatists. While exact amount paid through hawala channels is yet to be worked out, sources said it could run into several crores.
Before registration of a First Information Report (FIR), the NIA had to conduct the PE and prima facie establish that the case was fit for further investigations and registration of the FIR.
The separatists were reported to have received funds from various hawala channels including Pakistan-backed dreaded militant outfit like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) with a view to feed the people for triggering unrest in the Valley in the form of protests and arson, sources said.
According to sources, certain lobbyists, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), social organizations and related groups and individuals had been used to pay the funds to the separatist leaders at the behest of Pakistan-based militant outfits including the LeT, which has been in the forefront for fomenting trouble in Kashmir with subversive activities.
Sources said there had been reports with the Centre Government as well as the investigating agencies that hawala funds had been used for causing unrest in Kashmir, burning Government infrastructure including educational institutions, pelting stones and feeding some other kind of “undesirable activities” within the Kashmir valley.
As per the Preliminary Enquiry registered by the NIA, Lashkar-e-Toiba patron Hafiz Saeed, who is presently under house arrest in Pakistan, was one of the sources for hawala funds apart from other unknown sources in Pakistan.
It has reportedly been mentioned in the Preliminary Enquiry that Pakistan was used for sending money to hawala operators, who were functioning from Chandni Chowk and Ballimaran areas of Old Delhi. From these two localities, the hawala money was taken to the Kashmir valley by certain persons working for spreading unrest in the Kashmir valley, sources pointed out.
Sources said NIA could also verify allegations that showed some of the Hurriyat leaders talking about receiving money from Saeed and other Pakistani individuals.
Reports said the hawala payments had been made to fund those involved in anti-India activities through a known ISI conduit named Mehboob Ahmed Sagar.
Sagar was paid by ISI on a monthly basis and he, in turn, funneled the cash to a separatist leader.
Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have directed Jammu and Kashmir and Central Intelligence Agencies, operating in the Kashmir valley, to keep strict vigil on all kind of financial activities of the separatists, who want to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir but both Centre and State Governments want peace and normalcy to be restored in the Valley as early as possible.
There have been reports with the Intelligence agencies that a single separatist leader had received several lakhs of rupees for distribution to incite trouble in the Valley. On the name of relief funds also, hawala money has been used, sources said.
Meanwhile, the NIA team is reported to have reached Srinagar after registration of PE at their New Delhi headquarters to start investigations in the hawala funding. Questioning of the separatists hasn’t been ruled out, sources said, adding that the NIA was also looking for the persons involved in making and transporting hawala payments from Old Delhi to Kashmir etc.
PTI adds from New Delhi:- The ED has issued a fresh summons to Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah to question him in connection with over a decade-old case of money laundering registered against him for alleged terror financing.
Officials said the agency has asked Shah to depose before the investigating officer in the case here on May 25.
The Central probe agency has issued several summons to Shah over the last few years with regard to the August 2005 case wherein the Delhi police’s Special Cell had arrested Mohammed Aslam Wani (35), an alleged hawala dealer, who had claimed that he had passed on Rs 2.25 crore to Shah.
Shah has never kept the ED date.
He has in the past told that the Enforcement Directorate case was “politically motivated”.
The ED had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Shah and Wani some years ago.
Wani was arrested allegedly with Rs 63 lakh received through ‘hawala’ channels from the Middle East and a large cache of ammunition on August 26, 2005.
During questioning, he had told the police that Rs 50 lakh was to be delivered to Shah and Rs 10 lakh to Jaish-e- Mohammad area commander in Srinagar, Abu Baqar, and the rest was his commission.
Wani, who hailed from Srinagar, had also claimed that he had delivered around Rs 2.25 crore to Shah and his kin in multiple instalments over the past year.
The ED, sources said, wants to probe the  proceeds of the crime of alleged terror financing in this case.