Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday arrested businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in the case the NIA has registered for “funding of terrorist and separatist activities in Jammu & Kashmir.”
Watali is the first businessman from Kashmir to be arrested in the case after seven resistance leaders were arrested and are now in judicial custody in New Delhi.
“Zahoor Watali was arrested from New Delhi,” Alok Mittal, the NIA spokesperson, told Kashmir Reader.
“Zahoor Watali is being questioned by the NIA officials regarding the incriminating financial transaction details and property-related records seized during the searches,” said Mittal. “He will be produced before the Special NIA Judge at Patiala House Courts on 18.08.2017.”
“His (Watali’s) arrest follows the searches conducted by the NIA on 16.08.2017 at multiple locations in Srinagar, Handwara, Kupwara and Baramulla belonging to the relatives and employees of Zahoor Watali. The searches have unearthed highly incriminating material pertaining to receipt of funds by Zahoor Watali from foreign sources and its further distribution to the terrorists and separatists in Kashmir valley for anti-India activities,” said Mittal.
“Incriminating documents pertaining to several financial transactions and land deals were seized. (Besides) the property documents seized have shown huge amount of cash transactions in sale & purchase,” Mittal added.
The NIA had first searched Watali’s house in Srinagar on 3rd June this year. The NIA had raided 24 other locations that day in Srinagar, Jammu, Delhi and Haryana.
Mittal said that Watali is “suspected of acting as a conduit for illegally remitting funds to the secessionists, terrorists and stone-pelters”.
According to NIA, Watali was earlier arrested in the year 1990 by the Jammu & Kashmir Police, when some “anti-national activists were found present in his house at Bagat Barzulla, Srinagar”.
“He was taken into custody along with (Mohammad) Yaseen Malik, Sajjad Gani Lone, Bilal Lone and others and was jailed for eight months at Jammu,” he said.
The NIA further said in its statement that Watali was accused of illegal encroachment of land and assault in 2009. A case is registered against him at Police Station Parimpora, Srinagar u/s 447, 147, 420, 468, 120-B RPC r/w section 5 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act. “However, as per the orders of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir on 22.06.2016, the investigation of the case has been stayed.”
“He was also accused of travelling on a cancelled/invalid passport despite having full knowledge of its being invalid/cancelled. Instead of surrendering the cancelled passport to the authorities, he travelled abroad on cancelled/invalid passport on 21.03.2016 in violation of the law and again when he tried to do so, his invalid passport was seized at Delhi by the authorities. A case was registered against him u/s 420 RPC and sections 3, 12 (1) (a), (b), (c) of the Passport Act at Police Station Ram Munshi Bagh, Srinagar, on the basis of a written complaint given by the Assistant Passport Officer, Srinagar. At present, the proceedings in the case are in abeyance as per the orders of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court,” Mittal further said.
Meanwhile, sources said that two sons of Hurriyat Conference chairperson Syed Ali Geelani have been granted more time to spend with their father in Srinagar.
Geelani is unwell for the past some days and is admitted at SKIMS Soura.
Naeem and Naseem Geelani were summoned by NIA in July to New Delhi. They were sent home to get documents of properties and were scheduled to report back at NIA Delhi headquarters on the 18th of this month.
“The duo has been given one more week till Geelani gets well and is discharged from the hospital,” sources said.
Geelani, whose haemoglobin value is “reducing”, is now recovering, a doctor said. “He has recovered to a lot of extent and may be discharged by this weekend now,” he added.