Kashmir: cat and mouse game between separatist leaders and Indian agencies

Srinagar: While National Investigation Agency (NIA) continues with its raids at several places in Kashmir and Delhi, the joint separatist leadership comprising chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat (Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq) and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik announced to court arrest after staging a sit-in outside NIA headquarters in Delhi on September 9.

The central probe agency, NIA, with the help of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) carried out raids at the residence of two senior separatist leaders, Agha Syed Hassan in central Kashmir’s Budgam district and Ghulam Nabi Sumji in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district early Thursday morning. Simultaneous raids were reportedly carried out on the houses Zameer Thakur, a close aide of Shabir Shah and Showkat Bakshi, a senior leader of JKLF.

The Agency had on September 6 carried out raids at 27 places in Srinagar and Delhi and claimed to have recovered Rs 2.20 crore and some “incriminating documents” pertaining to financial transactions. Two persons, Javed Ahmed Bhat from south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Kamran Yusuf, a local photojournalist from Pulwama in south Kashmir, were arrested on September 5 for their alleged involvement in stone-pelting in Kashmir and mobilizing support against security forces through the social media. They were on September 6 sent to 10-day NIA custody for interrogation.

The NIA also summoned the High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom for questioning. He was asked to present himself before NIA at its headquarters in New Delhi on September 6. According to a statement issued by General Secretary of High Court Bar Association here on September 7 all lawyers would abstain from court work upto September 8 in view of “continuous questioning of the Bar president by the NIA at its Delhi office.”

The agency had in July this year arrested seven separatist leaders and prominent local businessman including Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh who is a son-in-law of Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat (G) spokesperson Ayaz Akbar, Hurriyat (M) spokesperson Shahid-ul-Islam, National Front chairman Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Peer Saifullah and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal in connection with the NIA case No. RC-10/2017/NIA/DLI (J&K Terror Funding Case) under sections 120B, 121, 121A of IPC and sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 38, 39, 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 after NIA initiated a preliminary inquiry following a television sting operation about the alleged funding of separatist leaders in Kashmir. Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah is in the custody of Enforcement Directorate.

According to the national news agency,PTI(September 6), NIA during its probe found that after clothes and ‘dupattas’ California Almonds emerged as a new product in cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir that was being used as a mode of funding. The traders from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) were sending and receiving California Almonds and it was alleged that the money was used for funding of militant groups in the state, the report added.

Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik here on September 6 decided to stage a sit-in outside NIA headquarters in Delhi and court arrest on September 9. Addressing a hurriedly convened joint press conference at Jama Masjid in old city (September 6), the joint leadership dared New Delhi to keep the doors of Tihar jail open. “We are ready to face arrest by the investigating agency,” they said. While Mirwaiz and Malik managed to reach the Jama Masjid, Geelani addressed the presser over phone from his residence as he continues to remain under house arrest. In his address,Mirwaiz while reading out a joint statement said that the Government of India is following “a policy of coercion, defamation and intimidation in Kashmir as it does not want to address the actual issue. New Delhi wants to change the whole narrative, so diversionary tactics and propaganda are being used.”

A day after addressing a joint press conference Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest and Malik was detained and later shifted to Central Jail Srinagar (September 7, 2017).