The NIA, for now, is unable to question some Kashmiri separatist leaders in a money laundering case as these leaders are under preventive custody in their state and have been unable to appear despite repeated summons. Among the separatists the NIA wants to question is the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantosh.
After the leaders failed to appear twice, the agency issued summons for Ayaz Akbar, the spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Raja Merajuddin Kalwal, senior separatist leader, Altaf Fantosh and Peer Saifulla, another of Geelani’s close aides, asking them to appear before the NIA on July 24 at their J&K branch.
The earlier summons were sent on July 14 and July 17, asking them to come to New Delhi but none of them appeared. Later, they informed the agency that they are under preventive detention by the J&K police.
SSP, Srinagar, Imtiyaz Parray speaking to The Indian Express said: “We have to keep them under preventive custody. It has nothing to do with the NIA’s summons. It is done to maintain peace as they can mobilise youths and instigate them. They were under preventive detention from July 8-13 and we had to extend it because of the ongoing situation in the Valley. We informed the NIA that for these many days we need them.”
Government sources told The Indian Express the probe against the leaders has also slowed down as the Mehbooba Mufti government has urged the Centre to be careful while vetting evidence against separatist leaders, given the ongoing Amarnath Yatra and upcoming Independence Day.
The state administration is learnt to have conveyed to the home ministry that any move by agencies to arrest the Hurriyat top leadership may have an adverse reaction in the Valley, sources said.
Home Ministry sources said the questioning of the four suspects, including Geelani’s son-in-law, is required to unearth the larger conspiracy and to establish the money trail from Pakistan.
“We have scrutinised the cache of documents seized during raids last month. The four suspects who have been summoned need to be confronted with documents and money they have received in their bank accounts and through hawala transfers,” said a senior home ministry official. In case, the four fail to appear Monday, the agency can move court, seeking arrest warrants, an official added.
The FIR registered by NIA also names Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed who is “active connivance with militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Dukhtarane Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist organisations are raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and abroad through various illegal channels”.