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Jain Hawala Case
Clueless investigators, subverted state

The malaise can’t be cured with cosmetic steps like Ali Shah Geelani’s arrest

SK JainThe infamous Jain hawala case and the Indian establishment’s persistent refusal to face the truth has once again come into focus with the arrest of Hurriyat leader Ali Shah Geelani. Geelani was arrested last month on charges of acting as a conduit for funding terrorism.

A close look at the informal channels of hawala funds in India would convince any one that arrests like Geelani’s would not make any dents in the system, which acts as a double-edged weapon as the same funds are used to finance elections of politicians as well as to sustain terrorism. At present the state does not seem prepared to address the problem at its root.

Geelani is alleged to have got funds from the London-based Dr Ayub Thuker. The same Dr Thuker was seen behind the hawala funds for Kashmiri terrorists that figured in the Jain hawala case in 1991. The Central Bureau of Investigation accidentally chanced upon a Byzentine nexus of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and film industry that sustained each other sharing slush funds coming through hawala.

In 1991, two Kashmiris, Shahabuddin Ghauri and Ashfaq Lone, were arrested under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act). Investigating officers found that the two were acting as conduit for passing on hawala money to terrorists. 

Sleuths working on the case were led to Jain brothers — SK Jain, NK Jain and BR Jain — who passed the money on to Kashmir terrorists through the two arrested Kashmiris. However the Jain brothers were not detained for a day, nor charged under TADA while the Kashmiris were convicted and put behind the bars for years. This anomaly showed that the system was not even-handed. The CBI seized their diaries in which the accounts of payments were kept.

The anomaly also showed that something was amiss and the Indian state had been subverted from within, a situation in which the mastermind was let off by the law, while the foot soldiers were held accountable.

The Jains, who had been acting as major nodal points, passing money originating from dubious sources to a who-is-who of India’s politicians that included Devi Lal, Sharad Yadav, Rajesh Pilot, VC Shukla and LK Advani. The same conduit had been passing on money originating from the same sources to Kashmir terrorists. Thus India’s top politicians were getting money that was doubly tainted — it was graft and it was coming from a source out to destabilise India. To make matters worse, top bureaucrats were also among fund recipients.

However, the serious TADA case turned into a simple corruption case for the politicians. An important figure in the hawala network was Moolchand Shah, an alleged associate of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. He was arrested by CBI under TADA. Soon after important politicians began to figure as recipients of hawala money, Shah hired famous lawyer Ram Jethmalani to plead his case. The Supreme Court released him on bail. Strangely, the state did not pursue his case further, and the prosecution was dropped without any apparent reason.

WHO GOT WHAT AS PER JAIN DIARY

LK Advani   Rs 68.5 lakh Bhartiya Janata Party
Arif Mohd Khan  Rs 7.5  crore Independent
Arjun Singh   Tiwari  Rs 10.5 lakh Congress
Yashwant Sinha Rs 21 lakh Bhartiya Janata Party
Kalpnath Roy    Rs 54.7 lakh Congress
Devi Lal   Rs 50  lakh SJP
Pradeep Kumar   Rs 14.6  lakh SJP
VC Shukla  Rs 65.8  lakh  Congress
Balram Jhakhar  Rs 61  lakh  Congress
Madhavrao Scindia  Rs 75  lakh  Congress
RK Dhawan  Rs 50  lakh  Congress
Sharad Yadav  Rs 5  lakh  Janata Dal
Jafar Shareef  Rs 15  lakh  Congress
Buta Singh  Rs 7.5 lakh  Congress
Kamal Nath  Rs 22  lakh  Congress
Arvin Netam Rs 50 thousand Congress
AK Sen  Rs 20  lakh  Congress
Natwar Singh  Rs 23  lakh  Congress
LP Shahi  Rs 5  lakh  Congress
Ranjeet Singh  Rs 5  lakh  Congress
ND Tiwari  Rs 26.1  lakh  Congress
Harmohan Dhawan  Rs 1.1  crore  SJP
Kailash Joshi  Rs 10  lakh  Bhartiya Janata Party
BD Dahkne  Rs 10  lakh  Bhartiya Janata Party
Madan Lal Khurana  Rs 3  lakh  Bhartiya Janata Party

For unexplained reason, the case of politicians and bureaucrats was detached from the original TADA case involving commoners. 

The hawala case turned out to be as convoluted as the famous Iran-Contra deal during Reagan presidency, in which nobody knew who was paying whom for what ends. In the Iran-Contra deal American money was being paid to Iran, which was America’s enemy number one of the moment, to get it redirected to a rebel group half way across the world to destabilise a popular government in Nicaragua. In this triangle of Iran, the US and Nicaragua rebels, nobody seemed to know the difference between the subject and the object.

In the case of India, this much was sure that the big politicians of Congress, BJP and other non-left parties had been illegally receiving doubly-tainted money. Devi Lal, Sharad Yadav, Rajesh Pilot and Arvind Netam publicly admitted that they had accepted hawala money for their election funds.

Shah’s case was all the more intriguing because he was also alleged to be an associate of India’s public enemy number one, Dawood Ibrahim, accused of being involved in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, which were supposed to have been carried out in retaliation of Babri Masjid demolition.

Even more amazing was the case of Brij Bhushan Singh, who let the largest demolition squad of karsewaks from Gonda at Ayodhya. He admitted in another TADA case that he had links with Dawood Ibrahim. BJP did not take any action against him despite the fact that Dawood was, officially, BJP’s great enemy. The question is: Why was Singh let off ? Was there a supremo sitting somewhere far away from India, controlling its politicians of different parties, and its bureaucrats subverting the state. In fact, this question was raised by no less a person than Justice SC Bharucha of the Supreme Court. 

There were two many omissions in the prosecution case, too many gaping holes in their argument, too many unexplained turns. The Supreme Court monitored the investigation in camera for more than a year before CBI chargsheeted the accused. However, Justice Shamim of Delhi High Court dismissed the case citing lack of admissible evidence, despite the fact that the Supreme Court had scrutinised the findings and the investigation.

Much of it could be attributed to the fact that CBI withheld vital information from the Delhi High Court, thus helping the Jains and the recipients of hawala money. Later, in an appeal against the Delhi High Court judgement, the Supreme Court ruled that the dairies were in fact, admissible evidence. But LK Advani and VC Shukla were let off because there was no corroborative evidence.

The trail led to one Amir Bhai in the Gulf as the penultimate source of all the money. An official of the Directorate of Enforcement (DOE) did meet Amir Bhai outside India. After the CBI cases were dismissed, Amir Bhai returned to India and was interrogated by the DOE. Some coordination between DOE and CBI would help revival of the case with the DOE findings as corroborative evidence.

However, the state does not seem to have the will to pursue the case for the simple reason that top politicians and bureaucrats are involved as recipients of funds from the same source which funds terrorists. Arresting Geelani would not stem the rot.
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