Continuing crackdown on “militant financers”, security agencies have identified 13 people, including Hizbul Mujahideen founder Syed Salahuddin, Hurriyat leaders and businessmen, who are allegedly providing funds to militants and stone throwers at the behest of Pakistan spy agency ISI, officials said Sunday.
Government of India has started seizing properties belonging to militant financiers in a big way. Thirteen individuals and their properties have been identified by the NIA and action has been initiated, they said.
“Individuals identified during these investigations have been found providing money to all major militant groups like LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen as also Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-throwers in Jammu and Kashmir," a senior government official said.
Funds were provided to the leadership of Kashmir-based militant groups for misguiding, motivating and recruiting local youth to militant ranks, he said.
The official said the operational activities of militant groups, including attacks on troops, camps and convoys, are also being financed, the official said, adding money obtained through these channels are being used by major secessionist formations, especially the Hurriyat Conference.
These funds are used for maintaining Hurriyat's top leadership and a massive propaganda machinery to arouse disaffection among the people of Jammu Kashmir against Government of India, he said.
The official said it was also being utilised to spread false information through media contacts, newspapers and social media.
He said these are in turn used to instigate and lure misguided youth to resort to anti-India activities, violent street protests and stone throwing at troops and paramilitary forces at gunfight sites.
Extensive use of such funds is being made to finance institutions such as select Masjids, madrasas and organisations like recently banned Jamat-e-Islami (JeI), for focusing on subverting locals, another official said.
In the first strike, action was initiated to attach a plush bungalow of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in Gurgaon, the official said.
He is, at present, lodged at Delhi's Tihar Jail.
Watali is allegedly a major conduit for funnelling militancy finances into India, the official said.
Documents seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) indicate that he was receiving money from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, Salahuddin, the ISI and the Pakistan High Commission here, the official claimed.
He said Watali was known to have important sources of Hawala financing operating out of Dubai.
Besides him, another 10 leaders were brought into the multi-agency action on militant funding, the official said.
He said ED had zeroed in on proceeds of such crime and begun action to freeze and seize such assets.
The ongoing investigation in the first phase has determined and quantified assets valued at over Rs 7 crore as proceeds of militant funding crimes, the official said.
The 13 identified individuals include Muhammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, who through Hizb ul Mujahideen, has been actively involved in creating unrest in Kashmir and other parts of India, according to a document prepared by the security agencies.
Being a resident of Jammu Kashmir, Salahuddin has a wide network of local sympathisers, who act on his instructions and collect funds sent by him to fuel secessionist activities, it said.
Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Pakistan-based Jamaat-ul- Dawaa, and other separatist leaders of the State, including members and Hurriyat cadre, have been raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and from abroad through various illegal channels like Hawala, for funding separatist and militant activities in J&K.
The document said Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, a Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) founder member, was spokesperson and legal advisor to the Hurriyat (Geelani faction).
The official said during a search at his residence in Srinagar, NIA seized various incriminating documents and during interrogation, Shah confessed that his charter of duties included monitoring incidents, issuing statements, arranging meetings and conferences.
Shah, the son-in-law of Hurriyat leader Syed Geelani, was closely associated with the Jamaat.
The 13 individuals also include Muhammed Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Akbar Khanday, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Saifullah and Nawal Kishore Kapoor.
Khan, the Chairman of National Front, an organisation affiliated to Hurriyat, was part of the Muslim Jaanbaaz Force and earlier involved in various militant activities, the document said.
It said Dar was JKLF (R) Chairman and a militant involved in criminal and anti-India activities since 1990.
The document said he received arms training in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) in 1989-90.
Khanday is a Jamaat member and trusted lieutenant of Geelani and knew of anti-India protests in the Valley, it said.
Kalwal, a former militant trained in PaK, is a key fundraiser for stone throwers, the document said.
He collects funds on behalf of Hurriyat and spearheads protests, it said.
The document said Bhat, a former Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant, went to PaK for arms training and was involved militancy cases.
It said he is a trusted aide of Geelani and was aware of systems of fund collection and distribution by the Hurriyat leader to operatives, who indulged in anti-India activities.
The document said he had visited the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi with Geelani several times.
It said Kapoor, Watali's close associate, remitted Rs 5.6 crore to Watali for which he has not been able to produce any document.