A special money laundering court in New Delhi has ordered freezing of Rs 55 lakh cash of fugitive terrorist Nasir Safi Mir, who is said to be the financial brain behind terror and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir.
The seizure of the cash, under money laundering laws, was made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier this year in what is widely seen as the first major case of terror funding being successfully nailed in the country.
The Adjudicating Authority of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), a judicial body to decide on strict enforcement cases, has also asked the Special Cell of the Delhi Police to hand over the cash to the ED.
The Special Cell has been custodian of this cash since 2006 when Kashmir-based Mir was arrested by it in a special operation.
Mir, who managed to procure bail in 2008 on health grounds from Delhi High Court, later fled from Nepal allegedly using a fake passport and, according to security agencies, he is at present based in a Gulf country.
“In consideration of the overwhelming evidence produced, the provisional attachment order issued by the complainant (ED) is hereby confirmed and the Special Cell of Delhi Police, police station Special Cell, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi is directed to hand over the aforementioned attached amount to the Director of Directorate of Enforcement or to any other person authorised by him, to do so, on his behalf,” the court of K Raamamoorthy said in a recent order.
Besides the Rs 55 lakh in cash, arms and ammunition were also seized from Mir at the time of his arrest.
Mir was subjected to extensive interrogation by central security agencies during which he is claimed to have spoken about his links with the separatist groups and banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
The ED attachment order identified the cash as “proceeds of crime of terrorist funding and money laundering”.
This case, where seizure was ordered in January this year, was the maiden instance of crackdown against terror funding in the country under the stringent provisions of money laundering laws where the onus of proving ‘not guilty’ is on the accused.
The attachment of cash or properties under PMLA is aimed at depriving the accused of the benefits of the assets which are earned unlawfully.
The ED, which registered its own FIR in this case in 2007, claimed that during its investigation it found that Mir received the blackmoney from a Hawala operator working clandestinely from the Tony market place of Connaught Place in Delhi.
The ED attachment order, issued in January this year had said that Mir “was to deliver the consignment of explosives and Rs 10 lakh to one Hizbul Mujahideen operator
Zahoor, Rs 40 lakh was to be delivered in Kashmir for Hizb terrorists and the remaining Rs 5 lakh was for his commission.”
The 43-year-old businessman, during his interrogation statement to the Special Cell, is reported to have said that “after the death of Abdul Majid Dar, Syed Salahuddin took over as a chief of Hizbul Mujahideen and he used to give directions to Mir to channel the terrorist funding in India and for the purpose of channelising the Hawala transactions which were being used for terrorism activities, he used to visit India frequently.”
Mir, just before his arrest in 2006 near Defence Colony, Delhi, was sent with the mission to collect the Rs 55 lakh cash along with arms and explosives.
The Special Cell had recovered 2 kgs of RDX, an electronic timer, one detonator, a Chinese Mauser, six live cartridges while a blue coloured airbag contained Rs 45 lakh and separately 10 wads of Rs 1,000 notes (each containing 100 notes).
The Delhi Police had booked Mir under various sections of the Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Mir earlier used to possesses an Indian Passport, issued in Dubai, has a house in Dubai and also operated an NRI account in Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Delhi South Extension area.
The name of Mir, originally a resident of North Kashmir, started cropping in the late 1990s when it was alleged that he had converted his carpet business into a money exchange bureau in Dubai.
The businessman, who owns a carpet showroom and money exchange firms in the Gulf, had been regularly reporting to the nearest police station till early October 2008 but after that he never turned up at the police station as well as in the court for the hearings.
A resident of Lal Bazar in the outskirts of Srinagar city, Mir quit studies in 1983 to get into the carpet business which he continued till 1990 after which he shifted to the national capital and stayed in Lajpat Nagar area of South Delhi.
In late 1990’s, he went to Dubai soon after his father was arrested over his alleged links with terrorists.