Intriguing silence of politicos over NIA Raids
It’s appalling, disturbing indeed! Why, when separatists are being outed as paid proxies, or more aptly lackeys, of Pakistan, and being investigated for possible crimes against the State, and also sources for funding terror are being exposed and effectively choked, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and the entire band of Opposition leaders who were enjoying K. Karunanidhi’s birthday celebrations in Chennai have maintained stony silence. It seems they are afraid of taking sides.
They have, except Rahul Gandhi who is famous for speaking without thinking, like recently he scorned and smirked at the ruling Dynasty in Telengana, been stubbornly refusing to commend or criticise the raids by the teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Usually one does not speak out of fear. Who are these Kashmiri leaders afraid of–of those who are suspected of working for an enemy country? What a shame! For a change, India could do with some sincere nationalists.
Ironically, Abdullah and Mehbooba, are the two who should know that the Hurriyat leaders, after sending their progeny abroad, have pushed Kashmir in the throes of protests and militancy. With their own kin comfortably living in exotic places, they stoke the fires by provoking the youth in the valley, who for a thousand odd rupees risk their lives while throwing stones, or try burning police posts and worse become ineligible for any job.
Why the Kashmiri leaders seem to be mortally afraid of the separatists. One Engineer Rashid (Lone) shouted like a loony, during a discussion on the NIA raids televised by a popular channel. After his fiery denunciation of the raids, he must have been feasted by Geelani.
But the NIA raids are likely to achieve the wish of columnist Tavleen Singh. She recently wrote the sooner the Indian state recognises that the Valley is getting Pakistan’s help to foment terror the better we can handle it. And we need to get the Kashmiri Pandits back. India can’t allow what the Germans did to the Jews happen to Hindus in Kashmir.
The NIA has certainly succeeded in destroying the blackmailing prowess of the Geelani and cohorts and that is due to the secrecy it maintained throughout its investigation and collection of evidence. It got the biggest help from Times Now when the channel televised details of how money was transferred to hawala dealers who then sent it to the separatists.
The first inkling of something stirring was afoot when NIA teams emerged from the BSF camps. The raids started at 5.3 am on June 3, and continued until the following day. Over 35 raids, spread across Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana, covered premises of Hurriyat leaders and the hawala dealers and businessmen allegedly linked with them.
The raids came days after NIA registered a formal FIR in connection with the larger conspiracy to fund separatists in the Valley from Pakistan. The FIR alleges that money received from Pakistan is used to fund violence in the Kashmir Valley, including activities such as stone-pelting on security forces and torching of schools and government buildings.
“Around Rs 2 crore cash, gold coins and jewellery worth Rs 50 lakh, and incriminating documents, property-related papers, letterheads of banned terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, pen-drives and laptops, phone diaries, kachcha receipts and vouchers have been seized from the financiers, hawala operators, office-bearers of separatist groups, during the searches at 26 locations in Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana,” NIA said.
The bank accounts and lockers found during the course of investigation have been ordered to be frozen. “The persons concerned have been summoned for questioning and further investigation continues,” a senior NIA officer said.
“The prominent among those whose residences were searched include Zahoor Watali, Raja Zahoor Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar and Naeem Khan,” the officer said. In Delhi, the agency carried out searches in Greater Kailash at the residence of Manav Arora, in Rohini at the residence of two Kashmiri families, who have been staying in the capital for the past 10 years and are in business of dry fruits. The agency also carried out raids at Khari Baoli in shops of two businessmen Dharmesh Goyal and Giri who deal in spices and dry fruits. The agency also carried out raids at Ballimaran.
Also the sleuths carried out raids at hawala dealers in Haryana at Pyau Manhari, Sonipat and Kundli. In the V alley, more than 14 separatists and businessman were raided and over Rs 1.5 crore recovered from their premises. Those raided include suspended provincial president of Hardline Hurriyat Conference Nayeem Ahmed Khan, JKLF leader Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karatay, Tehreek-e- Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat district Srinagar president Raja Mehraj-ud-din Kalwal, moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Shahid-ul-Islam, businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali and others.
Nayeem Khan, who was suspended by Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani recently, was caught on tape admitting that Pakistan funded the unrest, stone pelting, torching of schools and mob violence during the 2016 agitation in the Valley. Raja Mehraj-ud-din Kalwal is close aide of Geelani. Shahid ul Islam is the close aide and advisor to Moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The NIA has now ‘enough material’ to file FIRs against the separatists. For the first time Geelani has been hit hard and he knows it. The NIA has enough material to charge him with treason. And he must be aware that the moment he gets embroiled in legal cases, his mentors in Pakistan will turn their back on him.
Only a year ago, he had been called by a very senior intelligence officer who had gone to Srinagar from Delhi to study how to neutralise separatists. Geelani was at his aggressive best. He had told the officer that the battle for Azadi will continue, but the officer was unaffected, he told him, Geelani, sooner than later he will have to either accept the sovereignty of Indian Constitution or he will be put in a plane and dropped over PoK. Geelani had smiled and left. But now after clinching evidence against him, Geelani, sources close to him, say that he is suffering from nightmares. This is good news for the Valley. Return of peace is a distinct possibility.
The NIA has continued to unearth more clinching evidence against the Hurriyat leaders and the hawala dealers and businessmen who have been running a sort of syndicate to channelize funds received from Pakistan to fuel anti-India sentiments and to indulge in attacking army and CRPF jawans and generally keep the Valley boiling.
The NIA has been very evasive in revealing what evidence and information it has been able to unearth during its raids. “Searches were conducted in Srinagar, Jammu and Gurgaon,” said a senior NIA officer. Several bank accounts were detected during the searches. “Pakistani currency notes and currencies belonging to the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been found and seized, apart from a lot of other incriminating material like correspondence with jailed troublemakers, suspicious transactions, and mobile phones,” the officer said. He further pointed out that prominent among those raided by the NIA are Tariq Ahmed Khan, ex-president of the LoC Traders Association, and Farooq Baggu and Kamal of Jammu. “The people concerned are being questioned about the same,” the NIA officer said.
The agency raided a prominent dry fruit dealer in Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar area. NIA sleuths also conducted raids on the residence of hardline Hurriyat Conference spokesman Ayaz Akbar. Akbar, a media face for Hurriyat and Geelani, was held under the Public Safety Act (PSA) during last year’s unrest. A cross-LoC trader and prominent city businessman were also raided by NIA sleuths.
The separatists, in desperate state, can hardly do much to stir up terror in the Valley but at the same time it does not mean the Valley will again be peaceful. A Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an amalgam of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded last year’s unrest, called for an emergency meeting to discuss the latest situation and its implications on Kashmiris, including the business community in the state.
“A policy of witch hunt has been launched by the Indian state against the resistance leadership and the business community of the Valley to defame and weaken the people’s political struggle and simultaneously cripple the economy of Kashmir. Such dirty ploys will demoralise neither the people nor their leadership,” a JRL leader threatened.
“Indian authorities, its agencies and particularly the NIA are unnecessarily harassing the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leadership and its activists. They have been given this task just to drag members of the leadership into fabricated cases. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the NIA sleuths harass people and even ransack properties during raids,” said Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. But Yasin Malik has been arrested and Geelani’s house has been locked up. Would they sing the tune of defiance? Hardly. These raids have warned all other concerned.
The government now has proof of the process by which the ones raided received money, it ought to be probed further. The Kashmiri leaders who have been reluctant to comment on the raids and even refusing to discuss whether the neutralising Hurriyat leaders will be a step towards sustainable peace in the Valley, cannot derail the process of making Hurriyat leaders ineffectual.
Stories alleging good ‘relations’ of the Kashmiri leaders cutting across the party lines with the separatists have been circulating for long but it has nothing to do with politics. Omar Abdullah is alleged to have attended a function hosted by a businessman—whose premises were also raided on June 3—some time ago, which was also attended by PoK’s Chief of the government. This just shows that in the closed society of Srinagar everybody knows everybody else. But there is no reason for Omar to decry traitors. Unless like his father he believes that stone-petlers are freedom fighters and ready to be martyrs, in the cause for azadi.
The silence of Mehbooba is not surprising. It is well-known that in her father’s election, separatists had supported him. It is said that a few months ago, during one of her visits to Delhi, she was reportedly ‘advised’ to keep a discreet distance from the separatists. It was the deputy chief minister, belonging to the BJP, who welcomed the FIRs against the ‘agents’ of Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir government, however, cautioned the separatists to mend their ways or be ready to face the consequences. “Old days are gone. They have to be on the right path. If they fault, they shall be taken to task,” said Dr Nirmal Singh, deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hopefully, once the root of the decades-old upheaval in the Valley, Hurriyat leadership, has been shaken badly by NIA raids, the government will take the process for sustainable peace in the Valley to its logical conclusion. Some are sceptical, chiefly because of the campaign against Modi’s Kashmir policy.
But sources close to Modi say that he has a plan for a long-term settlement of the ‘Kashmir issue’, which is being implemented in stages. Extracting the Valley from the clutches of Pakistan’s paid flunky Geelani, whose malevolence has ruined lives of thousands of the youth in the Valley is a vital stage of Modi’s plan.
By Vijay Dutt