The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted more than two dozen raids in different places in Kashmir in the past few days to trace the “roots and veins” of hawala money, which is allegedly in circulation among some Kashmiris belonging to various spheres of life. Informed sources told this newspaper that the Central government has decided to go ahead and frame charge-sheets against all separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. However, it was not confirmed whether or not these three leaders would be arrested.

J&K DGP S.P. Vaid said that they would allow the three leaders to proceed wherever they want to go when he was asked whether the government would allow the Hurriyat leaders to court arrest at the NIA headquarters.

National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah said that the NIA raids were conducted to harass and scare the Hurriyat leaders. He said the raids were aimed at defaming them in public and create more turbulence in Kashmir. He added that such attitude on part of the Central government proved the Centre was not serious about resolving the Kashmir issue politically.

Many news agencies had earlier reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was likely to register money laundering cases against all Kashmiri separatist leaders on the basis of the findings of the NIA. The ED has arrested Shabir Ahmad Shah in a previous case of money laundering as he was not paying any heed to the court’s summons. 

The Hurriyat leaders, who have decided to court arrest at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi, dismissed the findings and investigations of the NIA as bogus and a ploy by the Central government to tar their image.

Informed sources said that the Enforcement Directorate will register money laundering cases against all the separatist leaders and their aides arrested by the NIA. “It is likely that the top leadership of Kashmiri separatists will also be finally in our net,” an NIA sleuth was quoted by a news agency. The ED is likely to invoke Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against the separatist leaders.

The NIA on 30 May had filed an FIR against the separatist leaders, slapping charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against the government under the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The NIA, after its latest raids, has searched the houses of many businessmen who have across-LoC businesses, including prominent Shia leader Agha Syed Hassan of Budgam, who is part of the Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s Hurriyat. The Centre has said that the raids will continue as they are getting more and more leads that the unrest was being funded from across the border.

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