The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Srinagar-based freelance journalist Irfan Mehraj in relation to sponsoring the terror activities. The preliminary investigations revealed that Irfan has links to terror funding groups with his NGO. Irfan is one of the close associates of Kharrun Prvez and his organisation.
A press note released by the NIA dated march 21 reads, ‘Investigation revealed that the JKCCS was funding terror activities in the valley and had also been in propagation of secessionist agenda in the valley under the grab of protection of human rights. Involvement of some value based NGOs, trust and societies in funding of terror related activities is being probed in the case. Some NGOs, both registered as well as unregistered have come to notice collecting funds domestically and abroad under the cover of doing charity and where is welfare activities, including public health education etc. But some of these organisations have developed links with proscribed terrorist organisations such as lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) etc.’
NIA makes first arrest in NGO Terror Funding Case pic.twitter.com/sjPGmxDyNd
— NIA India (@NIA_India) March 21, 2023
Mehraj was freelance journalist who worked for the online portal TwoCircles.net, where the news focusses on marginalised communities, and he also edited Wande Magazine, a long form of writing. Apart from this he his works are also published in the propaganda websites like Deutsche Welle (DW), Al Jazeera and TRT. His work has also appeared in The Caravan, Himal Magazine, Brighter Kashmir and Rising Kashmir.
Readers may recall the controversy after the Deutsche Welle (DW) released a documentary on Hindutva pop music calling them ‘hate mongerers’ in January 2023.
“During investigations, the NIA identified and arrested accused Muhammad Rafi Najar from Sopore, a close associate of designated terrorist Imityaz Kundoo alias Fayaz Sopore. He is a dealer in handicrafts and was based out of Pokhra, Nepal. He was found to be channelizing funds for proscribed terrorist organisations in the garb of legitimate trade of Kashmiri handicrafts”, said an NIA official.
Also, “Further, funds collected by such NGOs, Trusts and Societies are sent to Jammu & Kashmir through various channels such as cash couriers, Hawala traders based in Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India to sustain the secessionist and terrorist activities in Kashmir Valley, as a part of a larger criminal conspiracy hatched by these NGOs, Trusts and Societies etc., prejudicial to the unity, integrity, sovereignty and security of India”.
A case for NGO terror funding was registered in October 2020 and since then the NIA has been investigating the matter and have arrested many accused. A First Information Report (37/2020) was registered in the case at the NIA police station New Delhi by the agency.
So far in the NGO terror funding case the NIA has chargesheeted 26 accused. These include people from Pakistan and terrorists like Bashir Ahmed Peer alias Imtiyaz Alam and Imitiyaz Kundoo alias Fayaz Sopore. The NIA have also attached the property belonging to of Bashir Ahmed Peer on March 4.
All these accused have been booked under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (inciting disaffection towards government through words, signs, etc. of the Indian Penal Code and 17 (fundraising for terror activities), 18 (conspiracy to commit terror act), 22A & 22C (relating to offences committed by registered companies), 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), 39 (supporting terrorist organisation) of the IPC and 40 (raising funds for terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Before Mehraj three other journalists from the valley have been arrestred in the case. The famous Fahad Shah of the Kashmir Wallah digital magazine, Sajad Gul and Aasif Sultan.