Pak high commission, primary source of funds for terror in Valley

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, Apr 17: After identifying several properties in connection with the terror funding case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized assets worth Rs 6.19 crore belonging to Zahoor Watali, a Kashmiri businessman.

ED officials said that the Pakistan High Commission was one channel of funding for the separatists in Kashmir. The probe agency also said that Watali's role in raising funds and acting as a financial conduit had been established.

Also Read | Terror sympathisers in govt offices: Monitoring group gets cracking

The ED during a search recovered a document that suggested that Watali was receiving funds from the ISI, Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi and Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

The agency also learnt that after receiving the funds, Watali was remitting the same into the accounts of Hurriyat leaders. The separatists in turn used the money for their personal gains and also to fund stone pelters and terrorists, the agency also learnt.

It may be recalled that the central probe agency issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to attach 13 properties, worth Rs 1.22 crore, in Jammu and Kashmir.

The ED said the properties belonged to Mohammad Shafi Shah, a resident of Bandipora, and six other residents of Jammu and Kashmir, who allegedly worked for the terror outfit.

The agency said it filed a criminal case of money laundering in this instance after taking cognisance of a National Investigating Agency (NIA) chargesheet filed against Salahuddin, Shah and others under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Action (UAPA) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

"Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the most active terror outfit in Kashmir, has been responsible for funding terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir." "Headed by Syed Salahuddin, its self-styled commander based out of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, it funds terrorism on Indian soil through monies organised by a trust called JKART (Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust) in alleged connivance with the ISI and other Pakistan-based entities," the ED said in a statement.

It said the probe found that "terror funds" were being sent to India through hawala - illegal way of routing money by skirting banking channels, barter trade and human carriers. "The funds are illegally distributed to the next of kin of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, active and dead," it said. The US government had in August, 2017 designated Hizbul Mujahideen as 'foreign terrorist organisation'. Besides heading Hizbul Mujahideen, Salahuddin is the chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of terrorist outfits operating in the Kashmir Valley.

Also Read | Separatist Geelani's son gets second NIA summons in terror funding case

The NIA had arrested Salahuddin's son Syed Shahid Yousuf in this case in 2017 and the J&K government had later suspended him from service as he was working in the state agriculture department.

Shah and three others are lodged in the Tihar jail in the national capital in connection with this terror funding case, the ED said.

Also Read:

ED Mumbai chief Vineet Agarwal removed over Nirav Modi case controversy

Citing invite to Hurriyat, India turns down Pakistan's invitation on National Day event

Jet Airways crisis: "Discrimination", says Mallya; "Air India was bailed out with public money"