Terror via Tourism


Moni Shankar Choudhury: Local tour businesses offering Haj services in Jammu and Kashmir is as natural as any other business operation. But what ‘lies beneath’ a nefarious plot, to shred India into pieces. The intelligence agencies tracking terror finance in the valley have stumbled upon a major network of tour businesses financing terrorism through hawala in the valley.moni

The agencies have also found evidences pointing the involvement of Nayeem Geelani, son of Hurriyat hardliner Ali Shah Geelani in the nexus having links with a prominent Srinagar based tour operator. Although, the separatists involvement with Pakistani agencies and terror groups based on foreign soil is not a surprise. Separatist group JKLF’s leader Yasin Mallik had even shared dias with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Sayeed in PoK seeking Pakistani support for ‘Azadi’.

Three terror financing modes have caught attention of agencies probing financing involved in the 52-day violent protests that wracked south Kashmir after the death of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani. Agencies suspect that an equivalent amount of the payment deposited with the tour operators by J&K pilgrims is being paid to the end beneficiary through hawala route by foreign terror financiers, who in all likelihood are based in Pakistan, reported TOI. The rest of the money is then retained by the local tour operators and used to fund unrest in the valley. A top intelligence official said that Nayeem Geelani has link with the terror financers.

The junior Geelani has been summoned by NIA for questioning in connection with a preliminary enquiry lodged on possible terror funding behind the recent protests. According to intelligence sources, NIA is likely to probe Nayeem on his nearly decade-long stay in Pakistan before he returned to J&K in 2010. Geelani is being projected by Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief as his ‘heir apparent’ and handles all financial transactions for the outfit.

The role of the separatists is even more direct in another mode of terror funding identified by the agencies. This involves use of Kashmiri students who go to Pakistan for higher studies. Intelligence agencies suspect that the separatists, in coordination with their Pakistani contacts, “arrange” seats for the Kashmiri students in Pakistan’s educational institutions through a “monetary consideration”.

The money allegedly paid by these students to separatists or their agents for securing admission to Pakistani medical and engineering colleges is then used for financing terror activities in J&K, an intelligence officer told TOI.

The third route of terror financing is through the young Kashmiris, who visited Gulf countries and may be lured into acting as a conduit for transferring terror funds. The agencies have also identified a few hundred trouble-makers based in south Kashmir who instigated mobs over the past 52 days, urging even children, some as young as 10-12 years, to attack the security forces. These instigators belong to the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat-e-Ahle-Hadith and Muslim League.

Along with tackling the terrorists with iron hands the Centre must adopt a policy to quell the influence of radical Islamic elements and their shady monetary activities in the valley through proper vigilance.