ISI’s budget for Kashmir stone pelting is Rs 1,000cr

ISI’s budget for Kashmir stone pelting is Rs 1,000cr

By ABHINANDAN MISHRA | New Delhi | 2 April, 2017
ISI, Pakistan, Demonetisation, Kashmir, P.K. Mishra, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, APHC
Money is being sent primarily to the separatist leaders, some compromised J&K government officials and a few MLAs, say intelligence agencies.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI has released close to Rs 1,000 crore to separatist groups and overground workers of terrorist groups to fuel public protests in Kashmir after the death of terrorist Burhan Wani, as per information gathered by Indian intelligence agencies. Demonetisation decreased the cash flow for some time, but it has again picked up and money is pouring in from ISI, which is using the hawala route to transfer the money.

Official sources, who are tracking developments in Kashmir, say that this huge sum of money is going to the separatist leaders, compromised officials of the Jammu and Kashmir government, and even some MLAs, among others. The money is then being dispersed to the handlers who manage “angry young Kashmiris” on the ground, and pay them to throw stones at the security forces, hampering anti-terror operations, apart from providing safe hideouts to terrorists.

“These people are getting money through the hawala route. There is no full-proof way to stop hawala transactions. Individuals sitting in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, who have deep pockets, are sending money to their contacts in Kerala, West Bengal and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The money is then going to Kashmir, where it is being spent to organise and fuel protests through the stone pelters, who do not have any other means of income and hence are easy fodder for the separatists. We know each and every detail of how much people are getting for pelting stones or for unfurling Pakistan and ISIS flags in the valley. The terror groups have been successful in increasing the fear psychosis in the valley in the recent months. One of the reasons for the resurgence in violence are the Lok Sabha byelections that are scheduled to be held next week in Srinagar and Anantnag. The ISI and their subordinates in Srinagar want to give a message to the international audience that the general people in Kashmir do not want to stay with India, which they want to prove through low voting in the elections,” said a senior source in a Central intelligence agency.

Much of these protests, as per the intelligence agencies, are being coordinated through WhatsApp and Telegram groups that are being run by handlers sitting in PoK. “We had stated earlier too that the situation in Kashmir would worsen as the local population was being instigated to interfere in anti-terror operations carried out by the Army and para-military forces and that is what is happening now. Sitting in Delhi, we can tell you at what time a protest will be held in Srinagar and the interiors of Tral and Budgam. There is rarely anything spontaneous about the protests,” the official added. The Sunday Guardian had in February written about how the intelligence agencies had warned the Army to avoid any conflicts with the local people, as that was what Pakistan’s ISI was pushing for.

As per the agencies, the separatist leaders have called for a complete boycott of the elections and have said that taking part in the process will amount to betrayal of the “sacred blood of martyrs” who have given their lives for Kashmir’s independence.

“Mosques situated in their strongholds and other disturbed areas are regularly and openly announcing that people should boycott the polls. You can just imagine the kind of war we are fighting. Every separatist overground worker or a stone-pelter, who is not carrying a gun, and is killed during the encounter between the forces and the terrorists, causes more loss of goodwill of the security forces and that is what the ISI wants. However, our clear instruction is to use as much force as is needed and we are ready for the collateral damages, however painful that might be,” the official added.

A former Additional Director General of the Border Security Force, P.K. Mishra, who spent more than 15 years in Kashmir in various capacities, including when terrorism started in 1988, stated that radicalism became more acute in the vacuum when Kashmir did not have a government for many months after the death of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

“That was the time when Pakistan started sending a huge amount of money to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore through hawala traders to the APHC (All Party Hurriyat Conference) and various leaders who are present in the interiors of the valley. Money reached up to the village level. A huge number of madrasas and mosques have come up because of the money being supplied by ISI. These buildings have become centre of radicalisation. Burhan Wani was no one, but because ISI intervened he became a leader overnight. Hizbul Mujahideen, which was lying low for such a long time, suddenly became active as other terror organisations came under international pressure and had to lie low. After this Salahuddin was asked to revamp his group since he has many local connections in the valley and in the interiors,” Mishra said.

“Pakistan is forcing our security forces to open fire at the local Kashmiri youths so that they become alienated. Pakistan flags and ISIS flags are rampantly flying in the valley now and even though the local police is aware of the identity of the ring-leaders, they keep quiet and do not arrest them for reasons known to them,” he added.

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