On Monday Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti said that hawala money was used to fund terror and unrest and since 2001, there have been 173 such cases. She cited the report of the Criminal Investigation Department while submitting a written reply in the J&K assembly.
The hawala menace is not new to the valley. In fact, investigations by various agencies including the National Investigation Agency show that hawala money has been the backbone for both terrorists to spread terror and the separatists who create the unrest. In most investigations it has been found that hawala money has reached both terrorists and separatists from abroad. The highest remittances have been from Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and, of course, Pakistan.
Hawala in the Valley:
Investigators say transfer of money through hawala is still the biggest draw. In November 2011, four businessmen were booked by the Enforcement Directorate for facilitating hawala transactions through the Line of Control. It had become evident that this money was being sent by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to facilitate its terrorists and separatists.
However, investigations had found that the businessmen were only facilitating the transfer for a fee and were not ideologically connected to the LeT. The terror groups still find hawala to be their best bet since it is safer compared to legal banking. "It is very difficult to crack this trail as the persons involved in the transfer change after every two or three transactions," the officer says.
There is a lot of trade along the border that takes place on the barter system. Terrorists, separatists and their agents pose as traders and exchange money along the border. Very often, these persons also pass on money which is in turn brought into India and handed out to separatists and terrorists.
Investigations have shown that there were at least 48 agents until 2014 who were using the barter system to fund terrorism in the valley. The NIA and the ED had found that these persons had moved Rs 7.5 million in 20 different cases.
The seizures also led to the NIA finding cheques worth Rs 1 lakh which was meant to reach a terrorist or a separatist. The investigations also revealed that at least 90 persons from different parts of the world were involved in funding terrorists in the valley. Investigations reveal that between the years 2009 and 2011 an amount of Rs 12 million had been recovered.
Fake and foreign currency was recovered from agents who were funding terrorists. In 2011, some agents had also brought in 74,000 Saudi Arabian Riyals into the valley.
NIA sources say that the funding has gone both to terrorist groups and separatists. Money has been pumped into the Hurriyat Conference, Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, Islamic Students Front, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Jamiat ul-Mujahideen.
An 1997 FIR against separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani an FIR alleges that he had got funding to the tune of Rs 190 million from Saudi Arabia and also another donation of Rs 100 million from the Kashmir American Council. Investigations had revealed that all these funds were routed through a Delhi-based Hawala operative.
It was also found that Yasin Malik, another separatist, had received funding of USD 1 lakh and the money was being carried by a woman called Shazia. "We are looking at each case since 1995, and this will help us get a better picture of the entire racket," an NIA officer adds.
Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that the money is being used for various purposes."There is a considerable amount that goes into funding their own lavish lifestyles. The ISI which orchestrates this racket does not mind these persons living in lavish bungalows as long as they keep the fire going," says the officer.
Investigations had found that a considerable amount of the money had been used to fuel the 2010 unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA says that funding is the biggest concern and this route and channel needs to be broken. "These troublemakers do anything for money and Pakistan is not hesitant to pump in as much as is possible to keep the fire in the valley burning," the officer says