NIA charges Hurriyat leaders, others with ‘sedition’

Files 12,794-page chargesheet in Kashmir funding case

Press Trust of India
New Delhi, Publish Date: Jan 18 2018 11:07PM | Updated Date: Jan 19 2018 12:55AM
NIA charges Hurriyat leaders, others with ‘sedition’Representational Pic

A chargesheet was filed on Thursday against 12 people by the NIA including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin for “conspiring to wage war against the government” and “fomenting trouble in Kashmir.”

The chargesheet also alleged that officials of Pakistan high commission here were passing on money through now-arrested businessman Zahoor Watali to separatists who would hand it over to them after deducting his cut.

The National Investigation Agency filed the 12,794-page charge sheet, along with annexure, before a designated NIA court here and sought permission to continue its probe related to terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir, the agency said in a statement here.

Additional sessions judge Tarun Sherawat, after hearing arguments on the chargesheet, posted the matter for January 30 when it will decide on the point of taking cognisance of the document.

The 10 arrested accused persons urged the court not to take cognisance, citing lack of jurisdiction.

Saeed is accused of using the services of Watali for passing money to separatists and some individuals who were actively indulging in stone pelting in various areas of Kashmir, the NIA said.

The agency charged Saeed and Salahuddin along with 10 others for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

NIA officials said that they had gathered substantial material and technical evidence during the probe.

They said that 60 locations were raided and 950 incriminating documents seized. There are 300 witnesses in the case.

Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has also named Syed Ali Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh, Bashir Ahmad Bhat and photojournalist Kamran Yusuf, who has been identified along with Javed Ahmad Bhat as a stone-pelter.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Muhammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency.

All the 10 arrested accused are currently in judicial custody and were produced before the court.

After the NIA filed the documents, the advocates appearing for the jailed accused questioned the jurisdiction of the case.

“Why the case is filed here while everything relates to Jammu & Kashmir? The cognisance should not be taken,” the defence counsel said.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the NIA, opposed the contention of the accused persons, saying that the NIA is a premier agency and has rightly filed the chargesheet in Delhi.

The court, meanwhile, rejected the demand of the accused persons to supply them the chargesheet.

“Let me first go through it first and decide on the point of taking cognisance,” the court said.

The agency has charged the Hurriyat leaders with “acting under the overall guidance of and instructions from Saeed and Salahuddin and their Pakistani handlers and plotting strategies to launch violent protests.”

They communicated these to the people in the form of “protest calendars” released through newspapers, social media and religious leaders, it said.

These acts aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir, the NIA alleged.

The NIA claimed that a “threadbare scrutiny and analysis” of documents and digital devices seized by it established that the Hurriyat leaders, militants and stone-pelters were carrying out “militant attacks, orchestrating violence, stone pelting and other subversive and secessionist activities” in the state.

These actions were a “part of their well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched with the active support, connivance and funding from terrorist organisations based in Pakistan and its agencies to achieve their objective of secession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by waging war against the government of India,” the agency alleged.

“...The gang of the accused persons is receiving funds from Pakistani agencies through hawala conduits such as accused Watali and others and also raising funds by generating illegal profits from LoC barter trade by doing under-invoicing and cash-dealings,” it alleged.

It claimed that money was also routed through fake and bogus companies floated abroad and remitted to the Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

“All these funds are then pumped by them into fuelling mass violence and terrorist activities so as to cause damage to public property, disrupt essential services, throwing normal life in the state into chaos with an intention to threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by striking terror in the minds of the public and by waging war against the government of India,” the agency alleged.

The judicial custody of 10 accused people arrested in connection with the case ended on Thursday.

Under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the prosecuting agency has to file a chargesheet within six months, failing which an accused is eligible for bail.

The NIA also recorded confessional statements on the flow of money, especially from Pakistan, from four people accused in a case related to the “funding of terror activities” in Kashmir.

The statements given before a judicial magistrate had tightened the case against the separatists who allegedly funded stone pelters and spread unrest in Kashmir, the officials said.

While three of them have been formally arrested, the fourth one was detained and subsequently let off after he said he would become an approver, the officials said, declining to divulge their names. PTI