-Deepak Zazia from J&K-
In the month of March this year when sleuths of National Investigating Agency (NIA) conducted raids at Chakan-da-Bag point on Line of Control (LoC), no one had expected that it was just a
beginning to snap channels providing funds to fuel bloodshed and
destruction in the Kashmir Valley and other parts of the State. Raids at cross LoC trade point followed by raids at several places in Jammu, Srinagar and Haryana are part of Centre’s new
strategy to cut funds supply lines to separatists and other terrorists groups of Kashmir Valley.
Comprehensive raids conducted, simultaneously, at different locations across the country have exposed the real face of separatist leaders, who are getting hung money from abroad through Hawala channels to fuel
violence in Jammu & Kashmir and to instigate gullible Kashmiri youth to indulge into destructive activities.
Sources said that intelligence
agencies were aware of funding of the separatist and terror groups by some businessmen and traders but due to lack of political will no effective action was taken. Now the BJP-led NDA regime, by exhibiting political will, has taken effective steps to snap these funding channels.
In the month of March this year, it came to the notice of the
authorities that atleast ten trading companies engaged in cross LoC trade have links to the Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HM) and other groups.
These companies were engaged in barter trade with some Pakistan-based individuals/companies that were under-invoicing the import of California Almonds (Badam Giri) at trade facilitation centres (TFCs) located at Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bag in J&K. It came to the notice that money earned from these traders were used for terror operations.
It was in the month of March this year that NIA established that crores of rupees were handed over to Over Ground Workers (OGW) of Hizb or to separatist elements to fuel the massive protests and violence in the Valley
following the killing of the terror group’s commander Burhan Wani in July 2016.
In an FIR registered last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, NIA had stated that large-scale transfer of funds was taking place through the California almonds trade. The trade was in gross violation of
prohibition on trade in ‘third-party
origin goods’ through this mechanism.
Sources said that NIA was keeping a watch on the financial transactions of traders involved in cross LoC trade as it came to the notice of the
premier agency that this trade has been used to fuel terrorism one way
The NIA seized records of the trade transactions made since 2008 and the investigations are currently ongoing.
NIA’s investigation is focusing on transportation of goods of other
countries — including the US — which are ferried unauthorised across the LoC, since only goods produced in India and Pakistan can be traded here.
In the first week of March 2017, security forces had arrested a truck driver Irshad Ahmad Mantoo, a
resident of Kulgam, while trying to smuggle in arms and ammunition from Pakistan. He had received the
consignment from a terrorist operative in PoK and had hidden it in a cavity in his truck that was bringing in
merchandise from across the border under cross LoC trade. It was only
his interrogation that NIA had came to the conclusion that this trade was used to fuel terrorism-both through
Sources said during investigation it came to the notice that many other businessmen were involved in funding terror and violence in J&K through Hawala money, besides those who were involved in cross LoC trade.
After keeping a strict vigil on the activities of traders and business
houses involved in funding terror, NIT teams conducted raids on June 3 and 4 at Jammu and Srinagar besides some other cities of the country to unearth the nexus of hawala funding to separatists, OGWs and others to fuel
militancy and unrest in the Valley.
The NIA had frozen bank accounts and lockers of some of the separatists and traders, whose houses and
business premises have been searched in the biggest ever crackdown to unearth hawala and terror funding in the Kashmir valley from Pakistan and some other foreign nations.
Although over 45 locations were raided, premises of a businessman of Jammu who is actively involved in cross LoC trade were searched by the NIA sleuths. This businessman is doing huge business on cross LoC trade through Chakan-da-Bag centre and was dealing with dry fruits, spices and
Besides raiding premises of some businessmen and separatist leaders, NIA sleuths also carried out a raid at the residence of a homeopathic doctor in Srinagar’s Nowgam area on June 4. Though the police records don’t
mention the doctor as being in close proximity to Kashmir’s separatist
leaders, he is now one of the key
suspects and is being investigated for working as a conduit to provide money to Hurriyat leaders in the Valley.
The Hurriyat leaders on NIA’s radar include Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jammu and Kashmir National Front (JKNF) chairman Naeem Khan, Jammu and kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader Gazi Javed Baba, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, and other
Pakistan-based militant organisations that carry out subversive activities in Kashmir and damage public property, carry out stone pelting on security forces, burn schools and other
The agency is also probing claims that large-scale transfer of funds from Pakistan to India has been taking place through the import of goods, including almonds from California, through the trade facilitation centres (TFC) located at Salamabad, Uri, and Chakan-da-Bag in Poonch, which is in “gross
violation” of State policy of
prohibition on trade in third-party
origin goods through LoC channels and is used to foment militancy and
pro-freedom movement in Jammu
An NIA report on cross-Loc trade noted, “The Central Government, with regards to the gravity of the offence as well as its bearing on national security, is of the opinion that the offence involved is of raising funds for militant acts, which is punishable under Section 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a scheduled offence under the NIA Act, 2008.
NIA’s investigations focus on transactions by businessmen as well as NGOs to find out “case of under and over invoicing” to fund pro-freedom leaders in Kashmir. According to official sources though, it’s difficult to establish the Hawala transactions, although any discrepancy in the official record of goods traded across the LoC as well outside India and to different parts of country are all being scrutinised as part of a wider probe by the investigating agencies. NIA had raided house of Dilshada, wife of Tariq Ali Khan of Zaffaran Colony, who is doing cross-LoC trade.
On June 3, houses of Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate and Javed Ahmed Baba alias ‘Gazi’ were raided. Residences of prominent businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali, Nazir Mir and Farooq Ahmad Wani, Gas distributors Shamsabad Bemina, Trader Raja Zahoor,
businessman Mohammad Sultan Chadinu, businessman Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Nengro, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat of Wanabal and a Gas dealer who is brother of separatist leader Farooq Ahmad were also searched.
Trans LoC Trade a Means for Funding Terror
The trans-LoC trade is already under NIA radar and it is believed that it is used for funding militancy and
separatists in Kashmir. The modus operandi is that some traders export less quantity of goods but, in return, receive large quantity of good items from PoK traders and excess money is used for funding militancy. Under the barter system, the traders had to import goods of the same amount which they had exported to other side. In some cases the goods received from PoK are under priced and excesses money thus generated is used for funding
separatists and militancy.
The NIA had lodged a separate FIR in hawala funding through cross-LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir about three months back and subjected several traders, who were doing business
on Poonch-Rawlakote and
Uri-Muzaffarabad route, to questioning at Poonch and Uri and later at its
headquarters in New Delhi.
Separate investigations in this case were going on but the NIA reportedly had clues that hawala money generated through cross-LoC route had also been used to fund separatists and OGWs to sustain militancy and generate unrest in the Valley.
Reacting to the NIA raids on certain separatists in connection with terror funding from Pakistan, the top
leadership of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on June 4 warned “Delhi” of dire consequences if all these “harassing” measures were not stopped forthwith.
In a joint statement, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik warned that if these “unnecessary” raids are not stopped, people will take to streets and resent these “arbitrary measures” with their full might and will.
The APHC leadership is being “harassed, terrorised and false cases filed against them and even
threatened to open those old cases in which judiciaries have bailed them out”, they alleged.
The three separatists said, “It is their (Delhi’s) frustration and we will continue to pursue our cause and won’t budge in front of such
dogmatic elements. It is a mischievous ploy to change the narrative about Kashmir issue and as such frivolous charges are framed against APHC leadership.”