THE MINISTRY of Home Affairs is set to grant sanction for prosecution of nine separatist leaders, including Hurriyat chief SAS Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Fantosh, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, within the next week. Fantosh and eight others were arrested for allegedly receiving funds from Pakistan to carry out terrorist activities and stone-pelting in 2016 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Kashmir.
The MHA, it is learnt, received a request for prosecution sanction from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last week, which was forwarded to a two-member authority comprising former Allahabad High Court judge Dr Satish Chandra and former law secretary T K Viswanathan.
Sources said the sanction, mandatory under Section 45 of the UAPA, is likely to be cleared by next week, failing which the separatists leaders will be eligible for bail.
The NIA arrested Fantosh and eight others in July last year and son-in-law to be prosecuted under tough terror law is expected to file a chargesheet by the end of the month after obtaining the sanction, said agency officials. The chargesheet may also name Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, they said.
The sanction request comes just months after the central government appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief, Dineshwar Sharma, as interlocutor to initiate dialogue in the Valley with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat. The Hurriyat leadership has, so far, rejected any talks with the interlocutor.
Besides Fantosh, others likely to be named in the NIA’s chargesheet are Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, Naeem Khan, Raja Mehrajudin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmed Bhat alias Peer Saifullah, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid ul Islam, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khandey alias Ayaz Akbar and Javed Ahmed Bhat.
The NIA chargesheet is likely to include the amount (Rs 2.20 crore), which was allegedly recovered during searches, and reports from experts on seized electronic equipment and call details records among others. The NIA had, in May 2017, registered a case against separatist and secessionist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.
Fantosh, according to NIA, is the founding member of Tehrik-e-Hurriyat (TeH). With Geelani under house arrest, the NIA believes Fantosh allegedly ensured that the leader’s messages and instructions were relayed outside. As the public relations strategist, Fantosh was also allegedly in touch with nationals from the UK and residents of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), according to the NIA.
The chargesheet is also likely to cite diaries, which include contacts of hawala operators and traders, ledger books containing accounts of companies involved in cross border trade, details of Jammu and Kashmir bank accounts and travel documents of certain entities showing their visits to the UAE.
Watali, arrested after several rounds of questioning, is considered the key behind remitting funds to terrorists and stone pelters, sources said. The chargesheet also likely to mention that the Jammu and Kashmir police had arrested Watali in 1990, when some anti-national activists were allegedly found in his house in Bagat Barzulla, Srinagar.
Watali, sources said, is also accused of travelling on a cancelled passport. According to the NIA, instead of surrendering the cancelled passport to the authorities, he travelled abroad in violation of the law in March 2016.