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Between 2009-2011, Separatists got highest funding to tune of Rs 34 billion

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New Delhi, Mar 09: In the year 2011, an operative by the name Hira Lal was arrested for circulating money through hawala. He was picked up from a hotel in Srinagar where he was found to be in possession of fake currency.

Between 2009-2011, Separatists got highest funding to tune of Rs 34 billion

During his interrogation, he told the police that he was in Srinagar to hand over funds to the Separatists. He also said that he had passed on Rs 30 million, while adding that the money was given to him by an official in the Pakistan High Commission.

The heat on the Separatists of Kashmir has been stepped up. The National Investigation Agency has conducted raids, the Enforcement Directorate is in the process of attaching their plush properties. During the probe, it was learnt that the money moved in freely between 2009 and 2011 and an estimate showed that an approximate of Rs 34 billion had moved into the coffers of these separatists in these two years.

To hit them where it hurts, ED set to attach plush properties of Kashmiri separatists

The Home Ministry report on the funding which was prepared on the basis of the details provided by the Delhi special cell and the NIA in 2014 made some startling revelations.

The report named 50 persons for using the LOC trade route and misusing it to move hawala money. These persons have sent out money to the tune of Rs 8 million in one instalment. In the second instalment it was found that money to the tune of Rs 3.1 million was handed over to a Hizbul Mujahideen operative in the valley.

In the year 2012 10 persons were arrested and an amount of Rs 9.9 lakh was recovered from them once again enroute to be paid off to the separatists. The persons who have been arrested included members of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir Mass Movement, People's Conference, Democratic Freedom Party, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and Islamic Students Front. Members of terrorist groups belonging to the Hizbul, Lashkar, Al-Umer, Tehreek-e-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad were also part of the gang that were arrested from circulating money in the Valley.

The modus operandi:

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.

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 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 managed to move Rs 7.5 million in 20 different cases.

Infographic: Money spent on Kashmir Separatists

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.

The 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.

Who benefitted:

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.

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