Terror funding case: ED attaches assets of over Rs 6 crore of Kashmiri businessman Watali

This is the second attachment that ED has made of Watali’s properties in the case. Last month, the agency had attached a property worth over Rs 1 crore belonging to Watali in Gurgaon.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth over Rs 6 crore belonging to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali in connection with a case of terror funding.

ED has alleged that Watali was the conduit through which Pakistan and Pakistan-based terror groups funded separatists leaders in Kashmir in order to foment trouble in the Valley.

"ED has attached property worth Rs 6.19 crore belonging to Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali and his family members under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, in the ongoing investigations in terror financing case against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa), Mohd. Yusuf Shah alias Salahuddin (head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen) and others," an ED statement said. The properties attached include plots of land at Sozeith Goripora, Narbal and Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir.

This is the second attachment that ED has made of Watali’s properties in the case. Last month, the agency had attached a property worth over Rs 1 crore belonging to Watali in Gurgaon.

The ED had earlier said that it had ascertained that over Rs 7 crore had been generated as proceeds of crime by the accused in the case through terror funding. With this attachment, ED has accounted for all the money that it claims to have established as terror funds.

ED, whose case is based on an FIR and chargesheet by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), has claimed that money had flown to Kashmiri separatists directly through the Pakistan High Commission.

Watali along with other nine accused initially arrested by NIA in the case are currently in Tihar Jail.

ED has also claimed that its probe has further found that another accused, identified as Naval Kishore Kapoor, has mobilised funds from unknown sources in Dubai and remitted the same to Watali and his company M/s Trison Farms and Construction Pvt. Ltd.

The agency has claimed that funding from the Pakistan High Commission was substantiated through a document seized during searches at the residence of Ghulam Mohd Bhatt, who worked as the cashier-cum-accountant with Watali. "The document shows that Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed from the ISI, from the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi and also from a source based in Dubai. Watali was remitting the same to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters of Jammu & Kashmir," an ED statement said.

It also said the document has been maintained in the regular course of Watali’s business and is signed by him. "…His signature on the questioned document matches with his specimen handwriting as well as his admitted handwriting," the ED statement said.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that a major chunk of NIA evidence against Kashmiri separatists had been taken from open source: participation in funerals, a letter written by the Pakistan prime minister, their history of militancy, raising of Pakistan flags and ISIS posters during protests, calls for financial help to families of slain terrorists, and pictures with members of proscribed organisations.

In its chargesheet filed in a special court in February last year, the NIA cited a diary, recovered from the office of Watali, as key evidence. Doubling up as an account book, the diary has entries of receipt of several lakh rupees against the name of Hafiz Saeed, mentioned in brackets. There are corresponding entries for payments made to one "Fantoosh", which the NIA has claimed is the nickname of Altaf Ahmed Shah, son-in-law of Tehrek-e-Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani.