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NIA may grill Kashmir’s separatist leadership in terror funding case

The Hurriyat leadership comprising Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik had termed the NIA probe a “witch hunt” launched by the Indian state.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2018 23:23 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hurriyat Conference,Kashmir,Kashmir valley
NIA headquarters at CGO Complex in New Delhi.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

With Jammu and Kashmir coming under governor’s rule, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is set to question the Valley’s separatist leadership in connection with a terror funding probe, officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

In May last year, the NIA initiated the probe against unnamed leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organisation of separatist groups, and leaders and associates of three terror outfits, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Dukhtaran-e-Millat. The agency suspected them of receiving funding from LeT patron Hafiz Mohammed Saeed to fuel violence in the Valley.

After an eight-month probe, the agency in January this year charged seven middle-rung separatists — Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah; media adviser and strategist of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz Umar Farooq faction) Aftab Ahmad Shah; Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate; prominent Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali; and militant leaders Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and Syed Salahuddin. But the NIA didn’t question the any of the top separatists in the case.

“There is enough evidence on record to question some of the Hurriyat leaders in the terror funding probe. The agency is likely to call them for questioning in the case,” said a home ministry official familiar with the matter.

NIA chief YC Modi on Wednesday met Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba to discuss some administrative issues ; the pending probes in Jammu and Kashmir also figured in their discussions, said ministry officials familiar with the matter.

“The NIA so far has taken over probe into 20 cases from Jammu and Kashmir. In eight cases among the 20 overall, the agency has also already filed its charge sheet and further investigation into the some of these cases is continuing. In 2018 alone, the NIA registered 10 cases from J&K,” said one of the officials.

Senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was not available for comment on the issue.

After the registration of the first information report in the case last year, the Hurriyat leadership comprising Mirwaiz, Geelani and Yasin Malik had termed the NIA probe a “witch hunt” launched by the Indian state.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 23:23 IST