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‘RAW double agent’, who also worked for Pak, on NIA radar over Kashmiri separatist funding

NIA is trying to net Kashmiri carpet dealer Nasir Shafi Mir who is suspected to be a conduit for separatist leaders in Kashmir as well as for Pakistani spy agency ISI.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2017 22:17 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Kashmiri carpet dealer,NIA,India
NIA raided 26 places across Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana last week, allegedly recovering letterheads of Hizbul and LeT. In this photo, NIA team is seen outside the residence of a prominent businessman in Srinagar.(HT Photo)

An on-the-run Kashmiri carpet dealer suspected of working for both Indian and Pakistani spy agencies is under the scanner of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly channelling money to separatist leaders in the valley,

An NIA official said Nasir Shafi Mir, now believed to be a Gulf-based businessman, could be one of the links in the suspected money trail from Pakistan to Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir, being probed by the agency.

Mir was arrested from Delhi in February, 2006, but was released on bail a year later. He is absconding since then, the official added.

Sources said Mir, 45, was enlisted by the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) – the later is India’s external espionage ageny – though it was known that he had links with the Pakistani spy agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The son of a wealthy Kashmiri carpet businessman, Mir was running a business in Dubai when arrested by the Delhi Police’s special cell.

Intelligence officials said he had an East European girlfriend whom he used to host in a Delhi five-star hotel

“Mir’s name is figuring in our probe as well,” said the NIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He did not give any other detail.

The NIA has accused several Kashmiri separatist leaders of getting funds from Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) patron Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

The agency says money received from Pakistan was being used to fund violence in the Kashmir, including paying for stone-pelting on security forces and for burning down schools and government buildings.

A former intelligence official who worked in Kashmir said Mir was enlisted by Indian operatives after he tried to bring Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief Syed Salah-ud-din alias Mohammad Yusuf Shah to the negotiation table in 2000.

“We suspected he was a conduit between separatist leaders in the valley and Syed Salah-ud-din as well as the ISI...but he had some usefulness for us also when the Indian government tried to negotiate with Hizbul Mujahideen...,” said the retired official.

The officer was a key figure in the talks with Hizbul.

As part of the negotiations, four masked Hizb commanders met the then Union home secretary Kamal Pandey in Srinagar, but the talks fell through.

The officer said Mir remained “useful to Indian intelligence agencies for the next couple of years” until it became clear that he was proving more beneficial to the Pakistanis, who were using him to channell money to separatists in the valley.

At the time of his arrest, police had allegedly seized Rs 55 lakh in cash and explosives.

Mir’s arrest created ripples among Kashmir separatists and a senior Kashmiri leader leader even pleaded on his behalf with the government, said the official.

It is believed that Mir now has a Pakistani passport and keeps shuttling between Pakistan and Gulf countries where he has business interests.

A former chief of an Indian intelligence agency told the Hindustan Times that Mir was “shrewd enough” to survive in the intelligence game played in Kashmir during the time.

First Published: Jun 08, 2017 17:21 IST