Kashmiri separatists liken NIA to Gabbar Singh, will court arrest at Delhi HQ
Earlier in the day, the investigation agency raided 16 locations across Kashmir and Delhi. The people targeted were mostly traders accused of involvement in hawala transactions meant for funding terror and separatist activities.Updated: Sep 06, 2017 18:44 IST
Comparing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to popular Bollywood villain Gabbar Singh, three Kashmiri separatist leaders on Wednesday announced that they would court arrest at its headquarters in New Delhi on September 9.
The leaders – Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik – decided on this course of action following NIA raids at 16 locations across Kashmir and Delhi earlier in the day. The people targeted were mostly traders accused of involvement in hawala transactions meant for funding terror and separatist activities.
Malik, chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, said the NIA was not a probe agency but “India’s Gabbar Singh” that’s being used to intimidate the Kashmiri people. He also dared investigating officers to present evidence, if any, against them.
“On September 9, we three will fly down to Delhi. We will go to the NIA headquarters straight from Delhi airport and tell this Gabbar Singh to show the people whatever evidence it has (against us),” Malik told a gathering at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar in Urdu, evoking loud cheers.
Gabbar Singh is the antagonist from the 1975 Bollywood film Sholay, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra. Amjad Khan played the role of the unconscientious dacoit in the movie.
Mirwaiz Farooq – chief of the Hurriyat Conference’s moderate faction – told the gathering that even as the spate of “killings, oppression and harassment continues”, India is taking the judicial route to launch “another offensive against the Kashmiri people by trying to abrogate Articles 35A and 370”.
“The move is aimed at bringing outsiders into J&K, thereby changing the demography of the state. This would render Kashmiris powerless and irrelevant, thereby diluting its disputed nature. These actions have a direct bearing on our right to self-determination, as guaranteed by the Indian state at the United Nations, and ratified by the world body itself,” Farooq claimed.
Geelani, chief of the hardline Hurriyat faction, addressed the gathering through the telephone. He has been under house arrest for months now.
The raids conducted by the NIA are part of its investigation into a case registered on May 30. The probe agency has named Mumbai blasts mastermind Hafiz Sayeed and Pakistan-based groups Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba as the accused in this regard.
The investigating agency has arrested seven people – including Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and photojournalist Kamran Yusuf – for allegedly funding terrorist activities in the state. They are also being probed in connection with the 2016 unrest, which resulted in as many as 100 deaths.
Farooq accused the Indian government of “trying to skirt the actual issue” by pursuing a three-pronged policy of coercion, defamation and intimidation in Kashmir. “Diversionary tactics and propaganda are being used by the government because it wants to change the entire narrative. It wants to defame and malign the (separatist) leadership by launching personal attacks on their integrity, spreading vicious lies about them, and distorting facts to create disillusionment among the masses,” he said.
The separatist also charged the government with conducting media trials on prime time television with the intention of undermining the “Kashmiri freedom struggle”. “The people of India are being fed lies and propaganda. Our family members, friends and associates are being harassed through these so-called NIA notices. Fear is being used as a tool of intimidation against Kashmiris, and they are being psychologically tormented in order to put pressure on us,” he added.
Interestingly, their decision follows reports that the Centre is exploring ways to launch a back-channel dialogue with the separatist leadership. According to sources, a former Information Bureau director has been nominated to bring separatists – especially Geelani – to the negotiating table. Though the official had been in the Valley last month, he did not meet the Hurriyat hardliner.
According to sources, the Centre believes that a separatist camp “weakened by the arrests and raids” would be easy to negotiate with.