In an apparent preparation for a crackdown on Kashmiri separatists, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will hold a meeting in a couple of days to discuss if a criminal case could be made out against separatist leaders over their alleged involvement in money laundering and hawala transactions.
ED director Karnal Singh has convened the meeting to look into the funding of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) and All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), said official sources.
While TeH is led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Hurriyat Conference is an alliance of over two dozen organisations, which, like TeH, seek either ‘independence’ from India or merger with Pakistan.
Agency sources told HT that sleuths have been asked to re-examine ongoing ED cases against separatist leaders, members allegedly belonging to the TeH or APHC, and suspected overground workers (OGW) of militant groups based in the Kashmir valley.
“The cases which the ED is currently probing will be discussed to underline the modus operandi employed by those already under investigation. The same cases will provide further insight into how money laundering and hawala transactions are used to facilitate activities of separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir,” an ED official told HT.
Among the cases cited by the official include one of Aslam Wani, who was arrested by Delhi Police 12 years ago.
Delhi Police had claimed that Wani allegedly told his interrogators he delivered Rs 2.25 crore to Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah. The money, police claimed, came through hawala channels.
The ED is also probing the 2010 case of two Kashmiri individuals — Firdous Ahmad Shah and Yar Mohammad Khan — who allegedly used an Italian firm, Madina Trading, at Corso Garibaldi to receive money to the tune of Rs 1 lakh. Agencies believe Yar Mohammad is a TeH member.
It is also looking into a case where a man named Mubarak Ali and and his maternal cousin, Inayatullah Wani, both residents of Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district, were arrested in Srinagar allegedly with Rs 5.4 lakh in cash. Police said the two were allegedly attempting to hand over the money to a Hizbul Mujahideen militant in the valley and that the duo was working as OGW for the banned group.
During the ED investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Mubarak Ali claimed that the seized money was carried by him and his cousin for his treatment of mouth cancer.
“It was later found out that Ali had received Rs 6 lakh, out of which he kept aside Rs 60,000 for medical treatment. The doctor, who was treating Mubarak Ali, said he was not suffering from mouth cancer and Ali’s treatment cost just Rs 10,000,” an official said.
The ED’s meeting is likely to escalate the situation between the Centre and the separatists who recently gave a statement that they won’t be having any dialogue with the Union government.
At a joint seminar held at the Hurriyat Conference’s Srinagar office, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said, “there could be no dialogue with fascists like RSS and BJP as they know only one language, which is to kill and muzzle genuine dissent.”
The Centre, on its part, has also refused to sit for talks with valley-based separatist groups. The multi-agency crackdown on separatist groups only indicates the hardened approach that the BJP government is going to take against such outfits in Kashmir.