The NIA has initiated a preliminary enquiry (PE) into allegations of funding of Hurriyat Conference leaders by Pakistan-based terror groups including the Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Toiba. The PE will also probe whether these funds were used to fan unrest in the Valley.
“National Investigation Agency has registered a PE (preliminary enquiry) into the funding of Hurriyat leaders namely Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Gazi Javed Baba and others in J&K by Hafiz Muhammed Saeed and other Pakistan-based terrorists and agencies to carry out subversive activities in Kashmir and for damaging public property, stone-pelting on security forces, burning of schools and other government establishments,” an NIA statement said.
The agency claimed it had registered the case after taking cognizance of a “news item related to the recording of conversations between the reporter and leaders of the separatist groups operating in Kashmir valley, by India Today TV, on 16.05.2017 in this regard”.
Sources said that two senior NIA officers, of the rank of Additional DGP and DIG, arrived in Srinagar and held a series of meetings with top officials regarding the role of Hurriyat leaders in stoking unrest in the Valley, especially after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani last year.
On May 16, India Today TV aired a story in which top leaders of the Geelani faction of Hurriyat Conference admit receiving funding from Pakistan. In the videos, India Today reporters — who according to the channel posed as potential funders and met Hurriyat leaders — ask Hurriyat provincial president Naeem Khan about how funding from Pakistan is received by them. Khan is heard saying that it comes to Delhi via Dubai and Saudi Arabia and hawala operators route it to separatists. He also admits overseeing burning of schools and staging of protests in Kashmir.
Khan says that more than Rs 100 crore has been pumped in by Pakistan to sustain protests in Kashmir. He also says that money from Pakistan flows to “Mirwaiz” and “Yasin”.
In further conversations, Khan says that Geelani has relations with agencies in Pakistan and has been in touch with Hafiz Saeed. He says Saeed has funded Geelani.
NIA sources claimed that their investigation is not entirely based on India Today sting operations, and that they have intelligence inputs to that effect. They did admit, however, there was no financial trail at the moment to substantiate the claims.
This is the second PE the NIA has registered to probe funding of stone-pelters and protesters in the Valley. In August last year, the NIA had initiated a PE in this regard and brought 17 bank accounts with cumulative transactions of Rs 38 crore under scrutiny. All these accounts belonged to small-time businessmen in Kupwara and Pulwama and were flagged as suspicious or fronts for separatists. However, till date the NIA has not been able to establish any link of terror groups or separatists with these accounts or transactions. That is why it has not even initiated a regular case in the matter.
The links between the Hurriyat and funding from Pakistan have been explored earlier. The NIA is already probing Geelani in a 2011 case of funding of Hurriyat and Hizbul Mujahideen by Pakistan. It has already once summoned Geelani’s son Naeem Geelani for questioning. A chargesheet has also been filed in the case.
With inputs from Srinagar