Key members of the Kashmiri separatist group Hurriyat have been booked by the National Investigating Agency for allegedly receiving funds from Pakistani sources such as LeT’s Hafiz Saeed to foment violence in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
Sources said the agency, which handles high-profile cases such as that of terrorism, will call for questioning Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan, Gazi Javed Baba and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate — four prominent separatist figures it named in a preliminary enquiry (PE) on Thursday.
An NIA team reached Srinagar in the afternoon to quiz the separatists, PTI reported.
A PE is a precursor to an FIR (first investigation report), the first step to launching a probe.
The four are suspected to have received funds from sources such as militant group Lashkar e-Tayyeba (LeT) to pay off people carrying out violent protests and arson in the Valley, where more than 100 civilians have been killed since July last year.
“We suspect the money was distributed in the Valley for various violent activities like stone pelting and torching of schools and government buildings,” said a senior NIA official, insisting to not be identified since he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
The money, NIA officials believe, was routed through hawala — a system of transferring money across borders that is outlawed in India. The PE names LeT patron Hafiz Saeed as one of the sources for the funds, in addition to other unknown persons in Pakistan.
The NIA will also verify allegations in a sting operation that showed some of the Hurriyat leaders talking about receiving money from Saeed and other Pakistani individuals.
“We are issuing notice to the news channel for providing us the memory devices and cameras used in the sting operation to verify the contents,” said the official.
The PE alleges that the hawala route is used to send money from Pakistan to agents sitting in Old Delhi’s Ballimaran and Chandni Chowk area before it is taken to the Valley.
Violence in the Kashmir valley peaked after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July.
Kashmir is sought as a territory by Pakistan, a dispute that triggered the last war the two nuclear powers fought in 1999.