The NIA has summoned Sheikh Abdul Rashid, the Independent MLA from North Kashmir’s Langate constituency who is also known as Engineer Rashid, for questioning in New Delhi on October 3 in a case related to alleged funding of terror activities in the Valley, officials said. He is the first mainstream politician to be summoned by the agency in the case, they said.
Rashid’s name came up during the interrogation of businessman Zahoor Watali, who was arrested by the NIA for allegedly supplying money to terror groups and separatists in the Valley. Watali was considered close to mainstream and separatist leaders.
Rashid has denied any involvement in the case and appealed to the J&K Assembly Speaker to initiate an inquiry.
He termed the NIA summons a politically motivated stunt and said that peace cannot be maintained by harassing and humiliating genuine Kashmiri leadership. “New Delhi should introspect and understand that Kashmiris are neither India’s enemies nor are seeking any resolution to the 70-year long dispute on communal lines. But it is New Delhi which had promised the right to self-determination for people of the united state,’’ he said in a statement.
He said that instead of questioning him and other leaders, the government should probe hundreds of custodial killings, forced labour in border areas and atrocities on innocent civilians in the last 29 years. “My life is like an open book and my people who have voted me the second time as their representative against all odds are the best judge of my activities,” said Rashid, chairman of the Awami Ittehad Party (AIP).
The NIA had registered a case on May 30 against separatist leaders who have allegedly been conniving with militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other outfits, officials said. The case was lodged for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities and causing disruption in the Valley by pelting stones on security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India, the probe agency said in the FIR.
Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for the banned LeT, has been named in the FIR as an accused. The FIR also names organisations such as the two Hurriyat factions, Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women separatist outfit.
NIA has secured confessional statements from two of the accused. A confessional statement is recorded before a judicial magistrate. The accused confirms in it that he or she is giving a statement without any pressure from the probe agency.
The entire process is videographed and no investigation officer is present in the court premises during the proceedings. In case of retraction, the agency can file a case of perjury.
With inputs from ENS Delhi