With television channels breaking scoops on the terror funding to Kashmiri separatists gaining momentum, the entire attention has shifted to National Investigation Agency or NIA, which is carrying out multiple raids and arrests as well. Nine separatists, including Shabir Shah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Fantoosh, Bitta Karate, are on remand in money laundering. A premier television channel has now come up with a ‘scoop’ on Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s shoddy deals itself.
But what is new in these revelations? Funding to separatists and terrorists is an open secret in the Kashmir Valley. The elite status of the erstwhile street urchins and petty politicians has always left the people of Kashmir wondering, as to why no action was being taken against them. They had got so emboldened with foreign, especially Pakistan funding that they kept browbeating the powers that be in New Delhi. Believe any common Kashmiri these separatists are also on the pay rolls of some agencies within. Providing doles and concessions to them has been boiling the blood pressure of those who have been victims of Kashmir’s radical and so-called Azadi movement. The controversial former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah has also sought investigations into funding of separatists by Indian agencies. Being in the government for better part of the three decade terrorism in Kashmir, his allegations cannot be just brushed aside. New Delhi should come clean on these allegations. The governments in New Delhi and Srinagar also need to come clean on concessions being given to Geelani, and in various cases to his family members, apart from various other separatists, in terms of medical assistance, boarding, lodging, travel etc.
Having said that, the question arises why did New Delhi take years together to act against paid Kashmiri separatists? STATE TIMES in its 4th August 2011 issue had dwelt on terror funding in detail but it missed the attention as usual. In a write-up ‘Delhi’s dilemma in taking on separatists’, the STATE TIMES had stitched together the sequence of events that nailed the don of Kashmiri separatism Geelani. The write-up is reproduced hereunder:
Around the time Egypt’s most mighty man Hosni Mubarak, attired in prison overalls, was lying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron in the Cairo’s court room to see his trial begin, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) was preparing to present a Challan against four men from Kashmir including hardcore separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s close aide in a Delhi court in connection with alleged hawala racket used to channelise money to terrorists of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen in the Kashmir Valley.
And, it may be sheer coincidence that at the same time, India’s one of the premier news channels was beaming a top story of the day showing Geelani’s yet another right hand man Salah-ud-Din, the self styled Supreme Commander of United Jehad Council and the Chief Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, engineering fake currency racket from Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The modus operandi used for pumping the fake currency in Kashmir for funding terrorists to continue their war against Indian nation was using hawala channels via Bangladesh.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani is also facing a case in the Lodhi Road Police Station in New Delhi where he was grilled by the cops just a few months back. There have been many charges against Geelani for being the recipient of the hawala money. In mid 1990s a reputed magazine ‘Frontline’ published from Delhi, had given a vivid account of the money having transferred hands for waging a war against India through terrorists, aided, abetted and trained in Pakistan. The notorious Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intellegence (ISI) is reported to be directly involved in funding the ultras.
Geelani did not reject the charges but gave a strange defence for getting the funds. He did not deny his involvement in purchasing assets in Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi but said that these were purchased with party funds for use of Jammat-e-Islami.
Salah-ud-Din has made very startling disclosures and so have his conduits on Wednesday. The television channel extensively showed the telephone numbers being used in Srinagar, Delhi and Saudi Arabia for coordinating the deals. The involvement of ISI has nearly been established. And, Geelani is in thick of it though he may be pretending innocence. Salah-ud-Din is on record, in an interview with a Kashmir based news agency over two months back, having said that Geelani was the Ameer of the Tahreek, implying that he was at the command of all the activities being carried out to fund terrorism in Kashmir.
The charge-sheet presented by the NIT names Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, believed to be the right-hand man of Geelani, along with three other accomplices, including Mohd Sidiq Ganai, who had allegedly collected over Rs 4.57 crore in three years from January 2008 through hawala channels from Pakistan for promoting “terrorist” activities in Kashmir. The hawala money was being sent to Kashmir for funding terror and secessionist acts in the State. Pakistan based Maqbool Pandit, a member of Hizbul Mujahideen and Aizaz Maqbool Bhat, presently living in Saudi Arabia were the key accused behind it. Geelani’s point man Ghulam Mohammed Bhat was arrested from the Valley in January with Rs 21 lakh meant for providing to terrorists.
The reports have revealed that the National Investigation Agency has intercepted call records of various accused based in Delhi and Pakistan. There is evidence of funds having been collected at various places in Delhi and one of the accused Mohammed Sidiq Ganai reportedly remained in touch with notorious operative of ISI, Major Iqbal, who is also wanted in Mumbai attacks, besides one more army officer, Col Abdullah. Ganai is an active member of People’s League, which is a constituent of Geelani’s Tahreek Hurriyat.
These disclosures betray the claims of the Pakistan government that it had nothing to do with terror in Kashmir. ISI is a state agency and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir telling to his Indian counterpart that non-state actors might be engaged with some sort of activities is just a lie. Pakistan is gaining time by engaging itself with India in the dialogue process to come out of the trauma of Osama killing and its hard pressed domestic problems, particularly in the wake of stepped up terror attacks against the establishment.
The revelations and concrete evidence against Geelani’s aides also unfold a key question as to why Geelani is not formally taken to task for explaining his role in the hawala funding. Some concrete action is required to be taken, as it concerns the national security. The administration, both in Srinagar and Delhi, is playing hide and seek game with him and it has now become a mockery whether he is under house arrest or a free bird. In both the cases, Syed Ali Shah Geelani is calling the shots with the powerful and mighty India watching helplessly.
If sparing Geelani from the required legal action, as US did in respect of Ghulam Nabi Fai, is a part of track two diplomacy then let it be known to all that he is not a stuff who can yield at this point of his age.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper