New Delhi: There are rifts within the separatist Hurriyat Conference in the Kashmir Valley over collection and use of funds raised abroad, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Sunday.
An NIA statement quoted Muslim League leader Masrat Alam, the so-called poster boy of stone pelters in the Valley, as telling NIA officials that Pakistan-based agents routed the funds raised abroad to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala operators.
These were transferred to separatist leaders, including hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.
“Masrat Alam also revealed that there are rifts in the Hurriyat Conference regarding collection and use of funds,” the statement said.
Masrat Alam was arrested along with separatist leaders Shabir Shah and Asiya Andrabi as well as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) head Yasin Malik in connection with the investigation into violence in the Kashmir Valley.
During his interrogation, the NIA said it confronted Shabir Shah with evidence about his investments in various hotels and businesses in Pahalgam as well as properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag.
He was also shown evidence related to transfer of money by Pakistan-based agents and representatives of Hurriyat, the statement said.
“He was confronted with some of his personal staff and associates who have provided vital information regarding the sources of fundraising and investment details.”
Andrabi admitted that she had been collecting funds and donations from foreign sources, and her organization, the Daktarin-e-Millat, had been organizing protests by Muslim women in the Valley, the NIA said.
“Andrabi was confronted regarding the funding of educational expenses of her son in Malaysia from 2011 onwards through foreign remittances made by Zahoor (Ahmad Shah) Watali,” who the NIA described as one of the main hawala conduits who used to generate and receive funds from Pakistan and its intelligence.
The statement said that Yasin Malik revealed that he was instrumental in bringing together the disparate factions of the Hurriyat Conference to form the Joint Resistance Leadership to spearhead the violent protests in the Valley in 2016.
The NIA registered a case on May 20, 2017, against terrorists belonging to Jammat-ud-Dawah, Daktarin-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and other separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir for raising and collecting funds.
The NIA has charge sheeted 13 accused in this regard, including separatist leaders, hawala conduits and stone pelters.