Days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached a Gurgaon property worth over Rs 1 crore belonging to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in connection with its money laundering probe into allegations of terror funding through Hurriyat leaders, the agency is likely to attach more properties worth Rs 6 crore in the days to come.
The agency, in its probe, has found that Kashmiri separatists have allegedly received at least Rs 7 crore from across the border to fund unrest in India. Identifying the money as proceeds of crime, ED has alleged that the funds were disbursed by conduits and the Pakistan High Commission in India. The agency has claimed this was substantiated through a document seized during searches at the residence of Ghulam Mohammad Bhatt, who worked as the cashier-cum-accountant with Watali.
The Pakistan High Commission could not be reached for comment despite attempts by The Indian Express.
An SMS sent to a number identified by a High Commission official as that of the spokesperson did not elicit any response.
The ED case is based on a chargesheet filed by the NIA as part of its probe against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief Syed Salahuddin, who, the agency has alleged, have been funding unrest in Kashmir through Hurriyat Conference leaders.
NIA had on Tuesday called Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for questioning in Delhi, but he did not appear citing a “security risk”.
The Indian Express had on March 9 reported that the ED had identified Watali’s properties and would soon attach them.
“The document shows that Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed, from the ISI, from the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi and also from a source based in Dubai. Watali was remitting the same to Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters of Jammu & Kashmir,” the ED claimed in a statement.
It also said the document has been maintained in regular course of Watali’s business and is signed by him. “This document clearly shows that Hurriyat leaders were receiving funds from Pakistan through the officials of Pakistan High Commission and through Watali. The signature of Watali has also been verified and as per the expert report, his signature on the questioned document matches with his specimen handwriting as well as his admitted handwriting,” the ED statement said.
Watali, along with other nine accused initially arrested by NIA in the case, is currently in Tihar Jail.
“Accused Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali has been found to be involved in fund raising and as a financial conduit for Hurriyat leaders. NIA investigation also revealed that the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and other secessionists instigate the general public, especially the youth, to observe strikes and issue directives to the masses to hold anti-India protests, demonstrations and processions through press releases, newspapers and social media. The secessionists instigate the masses to resort to violence, especially stone-pelting on the security forces at encounter sites and also after the Friday prayers. This is done willfully to create such circumstances which will arouse disaffection among the people of Jammu & Kashmir towards the Government of India,” the ED alleged.
The NIA in February 2018 had filed a chargesheet in the case against 12 people, including Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, both of whom are in Pakistan.
The agency had registered a case on May 30 last year against separatist leaders, including unidentified members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other outfits and gangs, officials said.
The case was registered for allegedly raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, and for causing disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India, the probe agency had said in the FIR.
The FIR had also named organisations such as the two factions of the Hurriyat — led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq — and the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women outfit.