Srinagar: Widening the crackdown on pro-freedom groups, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday raided 14 locations in Kashmir to locate Hawala money received allegedly from Pakistan to conduct “subversive activities in Kashmir”.
The NIA raided the houses and offices of the second-rung leadership of both the Hurriyat factions, as well as other affiliated pro-freedom groups and some prominent businessmen.
The Srinagar district president of the Hurriyat (G), Mehrajudin Kalwal, said that a large posse of sleuths and local police raided his house at about 5:45am.
“They frisked everything. They checked the book shelves. They slit open the quilts. They searched every household item, left nothing untouched,” Kalwal said. “They left at 2pm in the afternoon, empty handed. They could find nothing that could indict me.”
Another pro-freedom leader, who wished anonymity, said NIA sleuths reached his house at 3pm. “However, they did not frisk my house. Just stood in the patio of my house in Civil Lines and left,” the leader said.
According to news agencies, the houses of Altaf Fantoosh, son-in-law of Syed Ali Geelani, and of businessman Zahoor Watali, Awami Action Committee leader Shahid-ul-Islam, and of some second-rung leaders of both factions of the Hurriyat Conference and of the JKLF were raided by the NIA.
Two businessmen, Muhstaq Chaya and Manzoor Wangnoo, whose names were circulated as among the persons whose houses were raided, refuted the “rumours”. Both said their residences were not raided.
Government sources said NIA raids were carried out after a case was filed against the Hurriyat and other pro-freedom groups for receiving money through Hawala sources from Pakistan “to stoke unrest in Kashmir”.
Sources said that except Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed, who has been individually named in the First information Report (FIR) filed by the NIA, others have been named as organisations or pro-freedom groups including the two Hurriyats.
The NIA claimed to have recovered money and letter heads of militant organisations in the raids conductedon Saturday.
“Rs 1.25 crore has been seized in cash till now. More details will come in soon,” India Today news channel quoted Inspector General of NIA Alok Mittal as saying.
The Times of India quoted the NIA spokesperson as saying that apart from cash, “searches have so far led to the recovery of property-related documents, letterheads of banned terrorist organisations such as LeT and HM, pen drives, laptops, and other incriminating documents.”
NIA also conducted raids in New Delhi at eight locations, including in Ballimaran, Greater Kailash, and Pitampura. Traders who were under the scanner for dealing with Hawala money were raided. The investigating agency also raided two locations in Haryana.
The raids have come after three pro-freedom leaders, Nayeem Khan, Javed Ghazi Khan and Bitta Karate, were seen on camera admitting that they carry out “subversive activities in Kashmir” after receiving money through Hawala channels.
Following the television exposé, the three pro-freedom leaders were called by the NIA to New Delhi for investigation and a preliminary case was lodged to probe illegal transactions of money.
However, sources in the government said that more than the matter of Hawala money, the government’s decision to take on pro-freedom groups stems from the realisation that their activities should be squeezed.
“The influx of money is well known. What they want is to shrink the space for separatist groups. Now they are treating a militant Hafiz Sayeed and political leaders with the same approach,” a government source said. “Expect some arrests as well in the coming days,” he added.