Srinagar: National Investigation Agency (NIA) Saturday raided 14 locations in Srinagar, eight in Delhi and Haryana in connection with alleged terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir, and recovered documents, pendrives, cash and gold coins.
The raids were in connection with alleged hawala operations between Pakistan-based terror groups and Kashmiri separatists, officials said. The NIA also raided second-rung separatist leaders’ houses, offices and commercial locations.
Among those whose premises were searched include Naeem Ahmed Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Gazi Javed Baba, Raja Merajuddin Kalwal, Zafar Akbar Bhat, Altaf Ahmed Shah alias Fantosh and Shahid-ul-Islam and business tycoon Zahoor Ahmed Watali.
Fantosh is the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani whereas Kalwal and Baba are close aides of the octogenarian separatist leader against whom the NIA has already registered a case. Shahid-ul-Islam is associated with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference.
The separatists have strongly denied receiving any foreign funding and alleged that the Indian government is making false claims in order to defame the Kashmiri ‘freedom struggle’.
The NIA officials are tight lipped over the raids and said that relevant details would be shared only after completion of raids. However, the sources said that the NIA has registered a case against Geelani in the matter and that earlier the agency scrutinised five bank accounts allegedly linked to him as part of its probe into suspected terror funding.
The agency, which had earlier registered a Preliminary Enquiry, converted it into a Regular Case (RC) on Friday evening and began searches in the wee hours at the residences of second-rung separatist leaders in the Valley.
The raids follow questioning of three separatists—Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’ and Gazi Javed Baba of Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat who were seen on television during a sting operation purportedly confessing to receiving money from Pakistan-based terror groups- in New Delhi last month.
Unconfirmed reports said that, at least, Rs 1.5 crore cash, and incriminating documents were seized during the raids. The letterheads of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), pen-drives, laptops were also seized from the locations. Gold jewellery were also seized.
The NIA is probing all aspects of funding of separatist leaders and use of these funds in fuelling the unrest in the Valley. The sources said that the agency has collected details of 13 accused charge-sheeted, so far, in the cases in the Valley in the recent past, pertaining to the damage caused to schools and public property as part of the larger conspiracy to perpetuate violence and chaos in Kashmir.
The NIA had begun the probe on May 20 after the sting operation. The Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference had immediately suspended Nayeem Khan from the amalgam faction. Khan, however, claimed that the sting operation was fake and doctored.