Navlakha quizzed on links with ISI man held in US
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), earlier this week, questioned civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha about his links with Syed Gautam Nabi Fai, the US based Pakistan bankrolled Kashmiri separatist who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011 and later sentenced to a two-year term, two people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
Navlakha, currently in prison, was taken into custody by NIA from July 17 till July 22 for interrogation, and was particularly asked about a claim made by US Attorney Neil H MacBride in an affidavit in 2011 on the basis of a FBI investigation that claimed “Gautam Navlakha was introduced to an ISI General for recruitment by Fai at the ISI’s direction”, the officials said.
The agency is also investigating Navlakha’s visits to the US on few occasions to attend seminars on Kashmir organized by Fai’s Kashmiri American Council (KAC). Interestingly, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met Ghulam Nabi Fai in New York during his visit there in September last year.
According to US Department of Justice and FBI documents, Fai, who was arrested in July 2011, received around $3.5 million since 1990 from Pakistan government officials and the ISI. MacBride, in an affidavit dated December 7, 2011 in a court in Virginia, said: “For the last 20 years, Mr. Fai secretly took millions of dollars from Pakistani intelligence and lied about it to the U.S. government”. “As a paid operative of ISI, he did the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan while he met with U.S. elected officials, funded high-profile conferences and promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington.”
HT has reviewed the US Department of Justice and FBI documents. Fai pleaded guilty on all the charges against him after which he was sentenced in 2012 for two years with three more years of supervised release.
NIA, according to officials cited above, has also learnt that after Fai’s arrest, Navlakha wrote to FBI supporting him. The agency is trying to trace this communication , they added.
This is the first time that agencies have found a Kashmir link to one of the accused in the Bhima-Koregaon incident, for which which Navlakha was arrested.
Bhima Koregaon case is that the speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017, which was allegedly funded by Maoists, “aggravated” the violence near Koregaon Bhima war memorial in Pune district the next day.
Agency officials added that they are also investigating Navlakha’s trips to other countries as well to attend different seminars and conferences where Kashmir or other issues were discussed.
The officers added that they have evidence which establishes that Navlakha visited to the jungles of Chhattisgarh to meet the Maoist leadership as well. The agency has recovered some invitation letters from Maoists to him in this regard while his phone, email and travel details are being checked.
Yug Chaudhry, Navlakha’s lawyer said: I don’t know about his visits to the US but his visits to the jungle are already in the public domain. It was for academic purposes as he was doing a study on Maoism. He has written a book on the visits.”