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Separatists to mainstream politicians: How Kashmir’s web of terror funding is unfolding


New Delhi, Aug 10: The probe by the National Investigation Agency has been a systematic one. After all several probes of this nature relating to the terror funding and hawala cases relating to Jammu and Kashmir have ended up in the cold storage.

The terror funding probe did not involve run of the mill hawala operators. It involved Pakistan, the separatists and many mainstream politicians in the Valley.

Separatists to mainstream politicians: How Kashmir web of terror funding is unfolding

In the first round itself the NIA went for the source. The arrest of Zahoor Watali, a prominent businessman was most crucial. He was the one bringing in the money and also channelising it.

His interrogation has led to the arrests of several others such as Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and not mainstream politician from Kashmir, Rashid Engineer. These arrests show how deep the web was and how important a crackdown was.

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The name of Rashid in this case has been doing the rounds for long. He has been questioned in the past, but his answers were never satisfactory. The NIA said that it needed his custodial interrogation and hence, he had been arrested.

Rashid's name cropped up during the questioning of Kashmiri businessman, Zahoor Watali, who is accused of channelising the funds for separatists and terrorists, who in turned caused trouble in the Valley. Watali was arrested by the NIA in 2017.

Watali is centric to the probe by the NIA, which has so far unearthed heaps of details on how funds were brought in to the Valley and challenged.

It may be recalled that earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate had attached properties belonging to Watali to the tune of Rs 1.73 crore. It may be recalled that the ED had in April attached properties worth Rs 6.19 crore belonging to Watali and his family members. The attached assets consisting of immovable properties worth Rs. 1.48 crores in the name of family members of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali and balance available in the Bank Account of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd, New Delhi worth Rs. 25 lakh.

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Investigation revealed that Zahoor Ahamad Shah Watali is one of the main hawala conduit who used to generate and receive funds from Pakistan, ISI, UAE and had floated various shell companies to disguise foreign remittances for further transfer to separatist leaders and stone pelters in the valley. These funds were used to fuel unrest in the Kashmir valley and organise violent agitations and anti-India activities which resulted in large scale violence leading to numerous injuries and deaths of civilians and security forces.

The case against Malik:

What the NIA has learnt that while a substantial amount of money had been used to fuel terror and violence in the Valley, a lot of it had been diverted for personal gains as well.

Malik is a classical example of this. The NIA listed 12 properties belonging to Malik, which are located in Srinagar. The properties, which are also in the name of his relatives is valued at around 15 crore. Among these properties is a mall at Srinagar, NIA officials say.

Watali had transacted with Malik as well, the chargesheet says. He had got funds from the Pakistan High Commission and Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief, Hafiz Saeed as well, the NIA said.

Malik has without a doubt been one of the notorious players in Kashmir. His cases date back to several decades back and over the years, he has successfully dodged the law, while continuing to propagate in favour of Pakistan.

The cases against him are not ordinary. They range from acts of terror, causing unrest. In fact a 30 year old case, in which he was accused of killing Indian Air Force Officials was also re-opened. His name has cropped up in terror funding cases since 1995. Moreover he is also an accused in the abduction of Mehbooba Mufti's sister.

Malik and the other separatists in the Valley have been accused of diverting funds for their personal gains as well. An NIA official tells OneIndia that while a small part of the funds were set aside to foment terror and unrest in the Valley, a large part of it was diverted into buying properties.

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The case against Asiya Andrabi too is similar. She has told the NIA that she had used some part of the money to educate her children abroad.

Mehbooba under scanner:

Recently the Anti Corruption Bureau sought a clarification from former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti in connection with the J&K Bank scam.

The ACB sought to to know if she had any role to play in the illegal recruitments in the bank. The note issued says, " it may please be clarified whether such references had your endorsement,verbal or otherwise for appointments in J&K Bank."

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had registered a case and conducted raids after unearthing a loan fraud worth over Rs 177 crore in Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

The ACB formally booked the management and officials of the bank along with the illegal beneficiaries involved in the financial irregularities, a spokesman of the ACB said.

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