The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Thursday morning arrested Syed Ahmad Shakeel, a lab technician at a government hospital and son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, from his residence in Srinagar’s Rambagh area. Shakeel was taken to New Delhi. “In an operation today morning, NIA team along with CRPF and local police arrested Shakeel S/O Syed Salahuddin from Rambagh, Srinagar in a terror funding case,” the NIA said in a statement.
“Arrest related to case RC-06/2011/NIA/DLI (funding of terror in J&K through hawala channels) which was registered in 2011 in which 7 persons have so far been chargesheeted,” it said. Two chargesheets have been filed in the 2011 case.
A senior lab technician at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Shakeel (48) is the second son of the Hizbul chief to be arrested by the agency. Shakeel’s younger brother Syed Shahid Yusuf, who works for J&K’s agriculture department, was arrested in October last year in a case of alleged terror funding by the NIA. Shahid was accused of receiving funds from Pakistan for terror operations in the state.
Pakistan-based Salahuddin is the supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen and chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella group of militant outfits operating in the Valley. He was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.
Separatists have termed the NIA raids as an attempt to intimidate and blackmail the separatist and militant leadership. The NIA said that Shakeel has been arrested in a terror funding case. “The case pertains to transfer of funds through hawala channels by the terrorists based in Pakistan to Jammu & Kashmir, in a criminal conspiracy hatched with some operatives in India, to fuel and fund the secessionist and terrorist activities in J&K,” the NIA said.
“In this case, Ghulam Mohammed Bhat alias Abdul Rehman and three others were chargesheeted in the year 2011,” NIA IG Alok Mittal said.
“In October 2017, accused Syed Shahid Yusuf… was arrested by NIA as he had received funds from Hizbul Mujaheedin from abroad and was chargesheeted in 2018. In this case, so far, three accused persons Mohd Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga have been convicted after they pleaded guilty,” the agency said.
The investigating agency said that Shakeel did not appear before the agency despite being issued summons. “Accused was summoned by NIA for questioning but he did not appear,” NIA said. “A non-bailable warrant (NBW) was earlier issued by … the NIA Special Court, Patiala House, New Delhi. He is being brought to Delhi. He would be produced before the NIA Special Court for seeking his police custody for custodial interrogation.”
The agency said that during investigation, Shakeel’s name also surfaced in “raising, receiving and collecting funds from terrorist organisations through active cadres from Saudi Arabia”. “He had received money through Western Union several times which were sent by absconding chargesheeted accused Aijaz Ahmad Bhat alias Aijaz Maqbool Bhat,” Mittal said.
The NIA had also registered two others cases related to terror funding — one in November 2011 and the other in May this year. The agency had filed a chargesheet against 10 people, including Salahuddin in the April 2011 case. In the recent case, the NIA arrested 10 people, including some close relatives and aides of Geelani.