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Terror funding probe: NIA steps up heat on Hurriyat leaders

The NIA intends to go after the top leadership of the Hurriyat – which includes the triumvirate of Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2018 23:01 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Terror funding probe,NIA ,Hurriyat leaders
File photo of chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq addressing a protest rally in Srinagar(PTI Photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s newly revived Kashmir terror funding probe may soon land at the doorstep of top separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, with the federal investigation agency planning to issue summons for questioning his associate Ghulam Nabi Sumji, officials familiar with the development said.

“Sumji will be summoned soon. We have lots of questions for him,” said an investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to media.

Besides Sumji, the investigator said, the agency also intends to call Abdul Rahim Wani, brother-in-law of businessman Zahoor Watali, who has already been charged in the case; Abdul Razak, a close aide to separatist Shabir Shah; Shakeel Bakshi, an aide to separatist Yasin Malik; and advocate Shafi Reshi, who is the legal secretary of Geelani’s Hurriyat. Reshi is also the uncle of Yasir Reshi, who is a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MLC.

Sumji, secretary general of Geelani’s hardline Hurriyat, is a former member of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) assembly from the Homeshalibug constituency. He remained a legislator between 1987 and 1989 when he was a member of the Muslim United Front, and resigned after militancy broke out in the Valley.

A few weeks ago, Sumji hit the headlines for seeking a revision of his MLA pension. “I don’t know why the NIA wants to question me though it is true that my house was raided last year. I have not received any summons from the NIA so far. And, yes, it is true I had asked for revised pension for being ex-MLA,” said Sumji.

A spokesperson for Geelani declined to comment on the issue.

Following the current round of questioning, the NIA intends to go after the top leadership of the Hurriyat – which includes the triumvirate of Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

In May last year, the NIA initiated a probe against unnamed Hurriyat leaders and associates of three terror outfits — Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Dukhtaran-e-Millat — suspected of receiving funds from Pakistan-based LeT patron Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

In January, besides Watali, the NIA charged seven middle-rung separatists, including Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah ‘Fantoosh’ and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate; and two terror chiefs – Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin – in the case.

“The NIA conducted raids at many locations including Sumji’s premises between June and September last year... And now these persons are being called to fill critical gaps in our investigation,” said the investigator.

NIA investigators say their probe has shown that separatists have a well-oiled structure in place in the Valley which, they claim, helps in organising funerals of slain militants, provides financial help to their families and regularly makes payments to those who organise stone-pelting protests against security forces.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 22:54 IST