Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday conducted a series of raids and searched as many as 10 premises in the Kashmir valley and one in Karnataka in what the officials call a ‘fresh terror funding case’ registered early this month.Significantly it was for the first time after the NIA intensified its operations in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 that the premises of some newspaper or a prominent journalist were searched. In the forenoon, the NIA sleuths with a huge security detail swooped on Mushtaq Press Enclave in Srinagar. They walked into Srinagar headquarters of the leading English daily Greater Kashmir and questioned the staff about the activities and accounts of a medical trust operated by the media group.Sources said that the search party took several documents into custody. However, none of the owners or the employees was harassed or arrested.Sources said that one NIA team conducted a raid on the residence of a prominent journalist Pervaiz Bukhari who has in the past worked with Zee TV, Star News, Times of India besides a foreign news agency. He is known to be a friend of some human rights activists but does not operate any trust or Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). It was not immediately clear if the NIA team seized anything at Mr Bukhari’s house.Raids were simultaneously carried out on the houses and offices of the two prominent human rights activists Khurram Pervez and Parveena Ahangar. While Khurram Parvez has been running Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society since early 1990s, Mrs Ahangar has been operating Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). Both have been highlighting the alleged human rights abuse by the Police, security forces and the counterinsurgents for which they have received several international awards. Besides, both have publicly promoted the stated political stand of the separatists since long.One of the raids was conducted on the office of a Srinagar-based NGO Athrout which shot into limelight early this year when it offered the contribution of six ventilators to the Department of Health and Medical Education for Covid-19 patients. However, the government refused to accept this offer. Later, the same NGO sought crowd funding and contributions to reconstruct about a dozen of the residential houses which either perished or were damaged extensively in an encounter at Nawakadal in downtown Srinagar.Sources said that documents and laptops were taken into custody by the NIA sleuths.The NIA also conducted separate raids on a separatist activist Salman’s house in Bandipora and on the location of a woman Swati Sheshadri in Bengaluru, Karnataka.A statement distributed through WhatsApp, but not uploaded on NIA’s official site, said that the organisation searched at 10 locations in Srinagar and Bandipora (J&K) and 1 location in Bangalore “in connection with a case pertaining to certain so-called NGOs and Trusts raising funds in India and abroad in the name of charitable activities and then using those funds for carrying out secessionist and separatist activities in J&K”.“This case was registered by NIA on 8/10/2020 u/s 120B, 124 A IPC and sections 17, 18, 22A, 22C, 38, 39 and 40 UA(P)A, 1967 on receipt of credible information that certain NGOs and Trusts are collecting funds domestically and abroad through so-called donations and business contributions etc. and are then utilizing these funds for secessionist and terrorist activities in J&K”, said the statement.“Those whose premises have been searched include residence and office of Khurram Parvez (co-ordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society), his associates viz. Parvez Ahmad Bukhari, Parvez Ahmad Matta and Bengaluru-based associate viz. Swati Sheshadri; Ms. Parveena Ahanger, Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons ( APDPK) and offices of NGO Athrout and GK Trust”, the statement added. It said that “several incriminating documents and electronic devices have been seized”.Most of the political leaders chose to remain mute to Wednesday’s raids by the NIA. However, the Peoples Democratic Party President and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti came out with tweets, condemning the raids on the trusts and the NGOs. “NIA raids on human rights activist Khurram Parvez & Greater Kashmir office in Srinagar is yet another example of GOIs vicious crackdown on freedom of expression & dissent. Sadly, NIA has become BJPs pet agency to intimidate & browbeat those who refuse to fall in line”, Mehbooba tweeted.“At a time when J&K’s land & resources are being plundered, GOI wants media publications to write op-eds about diabetes & yoga. In BJP’s ‘all is well’ charade, truth is the biggest casualty. Any journalist unwilling to become a part of Godi media is targeted”, Mehbooba posted on her Twitter handle.
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