The more one looks into the trouble at Jammu and Kashmir, it becomes extremely clear that it is the funding that these separatists get which is the bulk of the problem. Separatists normally try to divert attention of the public by raising unwanted issues such as the Armed Forces Special Protection Act and pro Pakistan issues.
The fact of the matter is that funding terrorists and separatists in Jammu and Kashmir is a major racket and probably one of the toughest cases for any investigating agency to crack.
What is India doing to curb separatist funding?
An official with the Home Ministry informed OneIndia that the focus is on the separatist funding. There is a lot that multiple agencies are doing in order to stop their funding.
Agencies such as the NIA, ED and also the local police are working together with the help of the Intelligence Bureau to curb funding for these seperatists, the officer also informed.
The Combating of Funding of Terrorists has a broader approach and will go into all funds that are being pumped into Jammu and Kashmir. This would also cover the funding for separatists since the money is being paid to disrupt peace in J&K, the official also informed.
The other cell that is in force to crack this menace is the Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell. This cell falls under the National Investigating Agency and till date several cases of funding have been discovered.
Finding the trail
For the investigating officers, the trail is probably one of the hardest aspects to crack. The money comes in through various sources. It lands through hawala or a drug deal. At times the money is parked in the real estate and passed on to the terrorist and separatists in installments.
We have been able to detect that a considerable amount of money had been pumped in through Nepal which was meant to reach Yasin Bhatkal. However he has his proxies to collect the money and this would require further investigations in order to nail him legally, the NIA official informed.
Hawala still a major draw
Investigators say transfer of money through hawala is still the biggest draw. In the month of November 2011, four businessmen were booked by the Enforcement Directorate to 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 also the separatists. However investigations had found that the businessmen were only facilitating the transfer for a fee and were not ideologically connected to the Lashkar.
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 the hawala trail as the persons involved in the transfer change after every two or three transactions the officer says.
Misusing the barter system
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 end up exchanging money along the border.
Very often these persons also pass on money which is in turn brought into India and handed out to seperatists 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 managed to move Rs 7.5 million in 20 different cases.
In addition to this the seizures also led to the NIA finding cheques worth Rs 1 lakh which was meant to reach a terrorist or a separatist.
Using international agents
The investigations also revealed that at least 90 persons from different parts of the world were involved in funding terrorists in the Valley. Investigations would reveal that between the years 2009 and 2011 an amount of Rs 12 million had been recovered.
In addition to this fake currency and also Euros were recovered from the agents who were funding terrorists. In the year 2011 some agents had also brought in Saudi Arabian Riyals worth 74,000 into the Valley.
NIA sources say that the funding has gone both to terrorist groups and separatists as well. Money has been pumped into the Hurriyat Conference, Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, Islamic Students Front, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Jamiat ul-Mujahideen.
In the case of Syed Ali Shah Geelani an FIR had been registered in the year 1997 in which it was alleged 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 had received funding of 1 lakh US dollars and the money was being carried by a lady called Shazia.
The NIA says that it is probing into all these angles. We are looking at each case since the 1995 onwards and this will help us get a better picture of the entire racket, the officer further added.
Using the money to create unrest
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 entire racket does not mind these persons living in lavish bungalows as long as they keep the fire going. Investigations had found that a considerable amount of the money had been used to fuel the 2010 unrest in Jammu and Kashmir too.
The NIA says that funding is the biggest concern and this route and channel needs to be broken. These trouble makers 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.