DOST KHAN / ANCHOR
It was a huge surprise coming out of blue that the Enforcement Directorate has summoned hardcore hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani and terrorist-turned-politician Yasin Malik for their alleged involvement in money laundering and receiving funds through Hawala channels.
Coming as it is, ahead of Lok Sabha by-polls to Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies in the Kashmir Valley, the action should not end up just as yet another arm-twisting exercise to make the two hugely radicalised secessionists to fall in line for ‘facilitating’ elections by tailoring ‘boycott’ to benefit a particular political party. Remember, how the former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had taken off his second and the last term of Chief Ministership on March 31, 2015 by publicly thanking Pakistan, terrorists and the separatists for ‘smooth’ conduct of polls. Generally, boycott enforced by Geelani and his ilk has helped a particular political outfit with people in general remaining indoors due to threat perception.
To sustain and promote terror in Jammu and Kashmir, money laundering has assumed dangerous proportions and attained cancerous growth over the years. The latest victim of this dreaded virus are youth, who are funded to carry out stone-pelting- Intifaada, as part of ISI strategy and a low cost substitute to armed terrorism.
The money laundering is not a new phenomenon; it dates back to the initial years of terrorism in Kashmir. In fact, a media investigation carried out by a leading magazine ‘Frontline’ in 1997 had exposed the money laundering for funding terror in Kashmir, describing it as a ‘marriage’ between financial sleaze and secessionism in the Valley. The investigations had exposed a crucial aspect of terrorism in Kashmir and involvement of two top separatists, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and another mainstream turned secessionist leader, who was assassinated by Paki terrorists in broad day light. They were allegedly found involved in the handling and transmission of enormous sums of money flowing from Pakistan and the various other countries. The two separatists had no credible explanation as to where the money came from. They also failed in giving proper accounting of how it was spent.
Most of the Kashmiri separatists ‘continue’ to be on the pay rolls of radicals and fundamental organizations spread across the world, especially in Pakistan. They are credited with several cases of Hawala transactions registered in Delhi and Srinagar. Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yaseen Malik, Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan and many others have been living a luxurious life, reportedly having lots of assets including palatial houses, malls and business arcades in the city and in the peripheral areas, which remained hidden from the agencies but open to the public scrutiny in Kashmir.
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 in early 2011. There have been many charges against Geelani for being the recipient of the Hawala money. Geelani did not out-rightly reject the charges but had given 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.
The Frontline magazine had quoted Intelligence Bureau documents suggesting that much of the Hawala money was skimmed off by the Hurriyat leaders, as well as their proxies, who included businessmen and journalists, for personal benefit. It used to be then laundered through the acquisition of legitimate assets like property and financial investments, which were claimed to be organisational acquisitions rather than personal ones. Thus, international funds arriving through Hawala channels served two purposes-funding terror machine and generating a vested interest in continued bloodshed. The magazine 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 Intelligence (ISI) is reported to be directly involved in funding the ultras.
Given the in-depth investigations carried out by a reputed national magazine, cases registered in various police stations in Jammu and Kashmir and outside besides the crucial inputs of intelligence agencies, the Enforcement Directorate, which is known for its credibility, should take the latest spell of investigations into money laundering to logical conclusion. In fact, the ED should move forward extra miles to find-out the sources of income of neo-riches who are seen in large numbers in every town and urban habitation of the Valley. This will not only expose the beneficiaries of terror among the poor Kashmiris but also help in nailing anti-national elements. Let the current spell of ‘questioning’ not end up as just another political exigency.
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