When elections are round the corner, there is a surge in activity on all fronts. With elections also comes the headache for the security agencies to monitor the inflow of money through hawala transactions.
Over the past two decades, it has been found that a large amount of money is pumped into India through hawala channels at the time of the elections and several such transactions are under the direct control of the ISI, who in turn, blackmail politicians not to raise the issue as a result of which the trade goes on unabated. [Part 2: How Kerala became the hawala capital of India]
Politicians on ISI's list
A rough estimate that is drawn up by the agencies in India would suggest that the ISI has on its list several politicians, especially from Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra and Bihar. [Part 4: Putting an end to hawala is next to impossible, says IIM-B professor]
The money through a hawala channel is moved most actively in these states at the time of the elections before it is distributed to other parts as well. The ill-gotten money earned by politicians is parked outside the country and brought in at the time of the elections through a hawala channel.
What has been noticed is that the money starts entering India in instalments six months prior to the elections and parked with various traders. As the campaigning begins, it is pumped in to fund the elections.
When it involves money of a politician, the hawala trader is always a big player. In the past couple of cases that have been investigated it has been found that the operator is based out of Dubai. The Dubai market is directly under the control of the ISI which has used this route to move terror and drug money on several occasions.
At first these politicians who have relied on this market were unaware of who was controlling the racket. However, what the ISI did was draw out the list of these politicians and then began blackmailing them. This by and large explains as to why several politicians over the years have blocked efforts by the agencies to probe and bring about a closure to such cases.
Evidence galore that politicians are under ISI's control through hawala:
Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) head, Colonel R S N Singh says that there is enough material on hand to suggest that politicians are being blackmailed as they share close ties with hawala operatives who are under the control of the ISI and also the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
The first strong signs of hawala transactions between operatives and politicians was witnessed in the Jain Hawala case. Post the blasts in 1993 at Bombay there was a list of names that were drawn out. This list included a host of politicians and a lot of these names were from Maharashtra. In fact the names of two very prominent leaders who had got a sum of Rs 14 crore each from Dawood Ibrahim through a hawala channel was also investigated.
What these two poiticians from Maharashtra ensured was that Dawood and his men got a safe passage out of India and also a 10 per cent cut in every transaction that the notorious don undertook in India. Each of these transactions were through a hawala channel.
Jain Hawala scam:
This scam, which involved the transfer of hawala money to politicians, ran into Rs 72 crore. A hawaladhar by the name Choksi had transferred this amount of Rs 72 crore to Maharashtra and this was distributed among several other politicians.
This scam basically set the trend in India and politicians increasingly relied on the hawala channel to park and also receive funds. All the transactions were directly related to ISI agents and this gave the Pakistan spy agency and an iron hand against these politicians as they were blackmailed against taking action.
Moving away from Maharashtra:
Maharashtra, according to the agencies used to be the most notorious state and the presence of the underworld which controlled everything from politics to Bollywood to the police force has only made matters worse. However, with increasing heat and several probes, the remittance of hawala money went down drastically and the racketeers moved out of there.
Today Kerala is the hot market for hawala and the direct Gulf connection has only added to the problem. The money involved is so huge that it has become extremely difficult to pinpoint the involvement of politicians.
A report by the RAW suggests that hawala has not restricted itself to financing terrorism only. It is used to fund election campaigns in a large way as well. Politicians have been using hawala since the past 20 years and today are caught in the web set up by the ISI which controls a majority of this racket not just in India but in the Gulf as well.
The fact that the Vohra committee report was not made public is a testimony to the fact that the politicians are being blackmailed. The report which has explosive material against specific politicians remains a classified document. Many leading politicians according to the report had got money through a hawala dealer.
There was in fact a large sum of money that was used to fund the activities of separatists in Kashmir as well. The biggest beneficiary were those anti-nationals who were supporting the Hizbul Mujahideen which was once a very strong force in the Valley.
Obscene amount of money:
An officer who has probed these cases say that they continue to remain under immense pressure from politicians. There is too much money involved and hence the stakes are extremely high too. To top it all, these politicians are on an ISI leash which makes matters even worse. The total sum of money that has moved through hawala channels since the past 20 years is Rs 73 lakh crore. Between 2002 and 2006 about 692,328 crore has been the illegal financial outflow from India alone.