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NIA quizzes Geelani’s son-in-law again in terror fund probe

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today again questioned Altaf Ahmed Shah, son-in-law of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in connection with its probe into the funding of terror and subversive activities in Kashmir.

Shah, popularly known as Altaf Fantoosh, was earlier questioned by the NIA on June 9 about his movable and other properties, including houses in the Valley as well as in Jammu, and the source for their funding, official sources said.

Shah, who arrived again at the NIA headquarters today, was questioned by a team of agency officials about the alleged funding of the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the sources said.

There was no immediate reaction from Shah’s camp but his father-in-law had yesterday questioned the role of the NIA and said the probe agency was being used as a “war weapon” against separatist leadership in Kashmir.

Geelani, while chairing a meeting a day after his son- in-law was questioned by the NIA, alleged that the agency had crossed all limits and there was no legal justification for such arbitrary measures.

“Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, its leadership and cadre is the main target for authorities. It is a pre-planned psychological crackdown…,” he had said in Srinagar on Saturday.

Shah’s Srinagar house was raided by NIA sleuths, who also searched the premises of others, such as Shahid-ul-Islam, a close aide of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who heads the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, and businessman Zahoor Watali.

Apart from being the son-in-law of Geelani, Shah is perceived to be influential in the policies of the Tehrek-e- Hurriyat.

Hafeez Saeed, Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ul Dawah, the front of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), has been named in the FIR as an accused besides organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference (factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

The raids were part of NIA’s efforts to clamp down on separatist groups allegedly receiving funds for subversive activities in the valley.

The NIA had recovered unaccounted account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups, including LeT and HM.

The NIA investigation also seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, including those who threw stones at security forces, burned down schools and damaged government establishments.

This is for the first time since the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s that a central probe agency has carried out raids in connection with funding of separatists.

In 2002, the Income Tax department had executed searches against some separatist leaders, including Geelani, and seized cash and documents.

However, no criminal case was registered then.

PTI