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NIA may use ‘pro-freedom’ speeches, meetings against Jammu lawyer

The raids are part of NIA’s crackdown on separatists on the basis of an FIR accusing them of fomenting unrest in Kashmir with funds received from Pakistan-based terror outfits.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: August 1, 2017 4:38:53 am
The invite for a discussion in Islamabad on “India-occupied Kashmir”. Express

A day after raiding the residence of Jammu-based advocate Devinder Singh Behl, the NIA on Monday raided his ancestral home at Nowshera in the border district of Rajouri. The raids are part of NIA’s crackdown on separatists on the basis of an FIR accusing them of fomenting unrest in Kashmir with funds received from Pakistan-based terror outfits.

Behl projects himself as a human rights activist and is chairman of an outfit called Jammu Kashmir Social Peace Forum, a constituent of All Parties Hurriyat Conference. He is known to be a close aide of Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and NIA suspects that he acted as a courier for money flowing into the coffers of separatists from Pakistan.

While NIA is building a case against Behl based on his financial transactions over the years, it is also likely to use against him some “pro-freedom” speeches he has made in Kashmir and some meetings he has attended in Pakistan in favour of the “freedom movement”. The evidence regarding this, NIA officials claim, is available online and some were also recovered during the raids on Behl’s premises.

NIA is closely looking at a poster inviting people in Islamabad for a free discussion with Behl on “India-occupied Kashmir”. The poster carries Behl’s picture and asks “What’s Happening in Kashmir?”. It then says “Meet & Talk With Advocate Divender Singh, Chairman, Jammu Kashmir Social Peace Forum, a constituent of APHC. An opportunity for Pakistani experts to field direct questions to a leading rights activist from Indian-occupied Kashmir. In Islamabad, Friday, 29/01/2016 at 5 pm.” Another evidence NIA is citing is a YouTube video where he is seen raising “pro-freedom” slogans amid demands for banning use of pellet guns.

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NIA sources said Behl would be questioned about his association with such meetings and activities. “We are scrutinising documents recovered from his home and checking his financial transactions. His bank accounts have a sum of Rs 25 lakh. We will question him about the source of the funds. His call records are also being scanned to see who he kept in touch with regularly,” an NIA officer said. The raid at Behl’s ancestral home in Nowshera went on for over an hour. As news about the arrival of the NIA team spread in the town, local residents gathered outside Behl’s home and raised slogans against him and separatist leaders.

Meanwhile, NIA is planning to take voice samples of the seven separatists arrested in the terror funding case to match them with various videos where they have been seen delivering “anti-national” speeches, including a sting operation by India Today television channel where some of them are purportedly seen saying that they received money from Pakistan through hawala transactions and the sources include LeT’s Hafiz Saeed. WITH ENS, JAMMU

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