Why it's game over for Kashmiri separatist leaders

The NIA has clinching evidence to nail Hurriyat leaders and prove their funding links with Pakistan to foment unrest in the Valley.

 |  3-minute read |   21-01-2018
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At a time when the National Investigative Agency (NIA) is tightening the screws around the Kashmiri separatists, a section of the Hurriyat leaders, including All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front head Yasin Malik, have tried to deflect attention by saying those arrested by the NIA on terror financing charges had no active involvement either in the 2016 uprising or in issuing protest calendars.

However, such defensive and faint arguments coming from the Hurriyat carry little value since the NIA seems to be on a stronger wicket. The agency has done its homework well and the investigations carried out so far are scientific and rational.

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Meanwhile, the noose around other Hurriyat leaders is also set to tighten. Talking about the reasons for sparing separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, NIA said investigations are still on and once the designated court gives its nod to the request to proceed against them, action will be initiated.

It may be recalled that the NIA has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin along with 10 of their accomplices for criminal conspiracy, sedition and related charges under the clauses of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The NIA claims to be in possession of hard evidence. As part of the inquiry, the investigative agency raided as many as 60 locations leading to procurement of multiple incriminating documents. Above all, the NIA has chargesheeted separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah aka Funtoosh, Geelani's personal aide, Bashir Ahmad Bhatt and businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali.

The NIA has charged the Hurriyat leaders with acting under the direction of Saeed and Salahuddin and their Pakistani handlers, suspected to be ISI operatives.

The NIA also mentioned that the Hurriyat leaders preparing "protest calendars" and disseminating it to the locals through the use of social media and ultra religious clerics was detrimental to India's security interests as it was designed to create an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA said the larger aim of the exercise was to destabilise the state.

Significantly, the NIA believes that its investigation has established beyond doubt that the Hurriyat leaders received money from Pakistan through hawala to carry out militant activities. The agency has accused Watali and others of mobilising funds through cross-LoC trade. The probe also sheds light on bogus companies floated around the Hurriyat leaders to mobilise funds.

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The NIA says the evidence in the case is clinching and proves culpability beyond doubt. This evidence reportedly includes the confessional statement of one of the accused. The statements NIA has recorded also reportedly establish how stone-pelters are funded. One of the accused has agreed to be turn approver which is likely to tilt the case in favour of the prosecution.

The case now is so watertight that it is likely to serve a huge blow to the Hurriyat Conference, and militant organisation such as Dukhtaran-e-Millat. Also, it is likely to disrupt militant operations.

It is now well-known that bank officials in Kashmir are under constant watch and all deposits are being closely monitored. The informal channels that reportedly fund Islamic fundamentalist organisations are also under discreet scanner.

Everything including chats of stone-pelters, their locations during times of turmoil, literature, including propaganda pamphlets, coming in from across the border have been closely watched for clues.

The NIA closing in on Hurriyat coupled with the US putting pressure on Pakistan to slash funding terror and dismantle of terror camps will hit Islamabad hard at a time the country is finding its political survival difficult.

Also read: Taapsee Pannu on being trolled for bikini shoot and what other leading actors from South spoke on sexism in films

Writer

Shantanu Mukharji Shantanu Mukharji @shantanu2818

The author is a retired IPS officer who has held key positions in the Government of India handling sensitive security issues within and outside India.

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