The NIA has roped in the government’s cyber security arm to analyse various electronic evidences, collected during its recent raids on separatists and businessmen in the Kashmir Valley to check terror funding. Official sources today said that 22 laptops and computers, 100 mobiles and nearly 200 pen drives and memory sticks have been sent to the Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-IN) for creating a mirror copy or backup files.
The CERT-IN will also provide other technical details related to the data in the devices sent to it, they said. The central probe agency has asked CERT-IN to look for deleted material in the electronic gadgets seized during the raids, the sources said.
The NIA will intensify its investigation after receiving the report from the cyber organisation, they said. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had conducted raids on Saturday and Sunday at the residences of separatists and businessmen in the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Delhi and Haryana’s Sonepat and Gurgaon.
Among those searched by the NIA included Nayeem Khan, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Altaf Fantoosh (son-in-law of hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani) and businessman Zahoor Watali besides others. The raids were part of effort’s of the NIA to clamp down on separatist groups allegedly receiving funds for subversive activities in the Valley.
They recovered unaccounted account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups including Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). The investigation sought to probe the entire chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, including those who threw stones at security forces, burned down schools and damaged government establishments.
Bank accounts and lockers revealed during the probe had been frozen. Besides electronic gadgets, phone diaries and documents such as ‘katchcha’ (informal) receipts and vouchers had been seized from alleged hawala operators, financiers and office bearers of separatist groups.
While no separatist leader from the Valley has been named in the FIR registered by the NIA, organisations like the Hurriyat Conference (factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq), HM, Dukhtaran-e-Milat and LeT besides Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ul Dawah Hafeez Saeed have been mentioned. During the searches, a few thousand Pakistani rupees and currencies belonging to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well letter heads of the LeT and the HM were seized by the NIA. The NIA has alleged that since the cross-LoC trade, at Uri in Kashmir and Chakan-da-bad in Jammu, was based on a barter system, some businessmen “under- or over-invoiced” their bills, and the difference in payment was later used for promoting subversive activities in the valley.
This is for the first time since the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s that a central probe agency carried out raids in connection with terror funding to separatists. In 2002, the Income Tax department had executed searches against some separatist leaders, including Geelani, and seized cash and documents.
However, no criminal case was registered then. The NIA raids were carried out following the questioning of three separatist leaders — Nayeem Khan, who was seen on television during a sting operation purportedly confessing to receiving money from Pakistan-based terror groups, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’ and Gazi Javed Baba of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, in the national capital last month. The sleuths believe the separatists were receiving funds from LeT chief Hafiz Saeed.