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NIA Evidence in Kashmiri Movement Funding Case From Websites, YouTube, WhatsApp

February 6, 2018 | By

New Delhi: It was in July 2017 that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) was handed over the probe by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the alleged funding of Kashmiri freedom movement.

Since then the NIA has registered a case of Kashmiri movement funding against 12 accused, including Kashmiri pro-freedom Hurriyat leaders, it claimed that they were receiving funds from Pakistan-based outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. And, it claimed, they had close links with LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizb leader Syed Salahuddin.

NIA’s 1200 pages chargesheet reportedly shows the agency has relied heavily on “open source” information on the accused, which is generally available in the public domain, to press its charges: participation in funerals, a letter written by the Pakistan prime minister, their history of militancy, raising of Pakistan flags and ISIS posters during protests, calls for financial help to families of slain militants, and pictures with members of proscribed organisations.

In its charges against the pro-freedom Hurriyat leaders the agency under the title ‘Hurriyat conspiracy and secessionist agenda’ cited evidence such as official website of the group that talks about ‘freedom struggle’ and that “People of J&K have been fighting against Indian Occupation”.  The website describes Syed Ali Shah Geelani as the chairman of APHC and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. It reads: “…On October 27, 1947, Indian troops landed in Kashmir and ever since people of J&K have been fighting against Indian Occupation”.

The chargesheet reportedly says “This kind of content clearly shows the secessionist agenda of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and its leaders and cadres. The main aim and object is to succeed in breaking Jammu and Kashmir away from Union of India. All their activities and programmes are aimed at inciting and instigating people against the government of India and the security forces in order to achieve the so called ‘freedom from the Indian occupation’.”

Another evidence collected by the NIA is a Whatsapp appeal sent by accused Ayaz Akbar Khanday to Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. It states: “Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik on Sunday in a joint statement asked all political and militant organisations to follow freedom struggle with vision and wisdom. Appealing to maintain unity, the leaders said that it is time to remain united and follow cherished goal with spirit of persistence and unity among all concerned factions”, reads the quote from a report published in an English daily.

(Representational Image)

Furthermore, it was reported by the media sources that a video allegedly retrieved from the mobile phone of accused Altaf Ahmad Shah Funtoosh, of a speech delivered by his father-in-law Syed Ali Shah Geelani: “…Jehad could also be done through words, by writing, by helping Mujahiddin, by fulfilling every needs of Mujahiddin. The life of every Muslim should be like Mujahiddin life. Even though he may not pick weapons its ok, but if he fighting against rule or part of struggle he may consider as doing jehad.”

Quoting a post from the Facebook account of Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Shaifullah. The chargesheet by NIA  purportedly reads: “It reveals that he has uploaded a photo of Afzal Guru, the terrorist convicted in Parliament attack case, as his profile picture.” The chargesheet refers to a Facebook post on December 5, 2013, when Bhat shared a statement from SAS Geelani to the effect that all of India’s wealth cannot compensate for the death of a “shaheed”. “This clearly shows that Geelani and Bhat were inciting anti-India sentiments among the masses through such inflammatory posts…,” it states.

Additionally, the NIA under the heading of ‘Hurriyat-Terror Nexus’, claimed that their investigation has revealed many “open source” videos establishing that the accused are part of a “gang of conspirators” waging a war against the government to achieve secession. Describing one of the videos, which it claimed was published on YouTube on April 17, 2015, the NIA states: “Hafiz Saeed addresses and informs a gathering that Masarat Alam was raising pro-Pakistan slogans and waving Pakistani flag in Srinagar where thousands of people had gathered…”

Details of another video, presented as a conversation between slain Hizbul operative Burhan Wani and Hafiz Saeed by  the NIA where the two discuss financial assistance to LeT cadres in Kashmir and the idea of fighting the “enemy” together. There is no explanation on the connection between the video and the accused — or how they are linked to Saeed.

It is consistently maintained by the agency that the Hurriyat leaders attend funerals of slain militants. They “hail them as ‘shaheed or martyrs’ and support their families. They issue directives to the people to block all access to their localities to protect their youth from security forces…SAS Geelani hails killed militants as ‘martyrs’ and exhorts the public at large not to let the blood of martyrs go waste”, it claimed.

Moreover, the chargesheet prepared by the NIA speaks about SAS Geelani that how he makes appeals for “financial support to the families of killed and jailed terrorists”. It cites an appeal by SAS Geelani on the Hurriyat website: “Help the families of martyrs and prisoners… people should come forward for donations in the month of Ramadan as the number of people affected by this movement is large.”

A video downloaded from open source shows Nayeem Khan visiting the area where three militants were killed on 11.07.2017 at Budgam, Srinagar. This video shows him with the supporters of ISIS… This clearly shows that militant organisations and Hurriyat leaders are acting in unison,” in this the chargesheet has tried to establish a link between accused Nayeem Khan with militant organisations, and states.

Apart from this, the chargesheet describes in detail how stone-pelting is allegedly organised in the Valley through WhatsApp groups and protest calendars, which also ask people “to celebrate Pakistan Day”.

Besides, it alleges that the evidence shows Hurriyat leaders instigating youth to join Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and that their strike calls received support from LeT. “…there are email chats retrieved from the phone of accused… Altaf Ahmad Shah Fantoosh wherein the accused receives a mail from Abdullah Ghaznavi, LeT spokesperson, extending Lashkar-e-Toiba’s support to the strike call given by SAS Geelani (01.11.2015).”

The agency filed the chargesheet against 12 Kashmiris, including Altaf Shah, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, Nayeem Khan, Shahidul Islam, Zahoor Ahmed Watali and photo journalist Kamran Yusuf among others.

Interestingly, majority of evidences that are collected by the NIA are more of usage history of social media and social chatting apps like Facebook, Youtube and Whatsapp. It is widely believed that the chargesheet prepared on the bases of such evidences that are more or less facts and information already available in the ‘public domain’ is nothing but a desperate attempt by the NIA to contain the pro-freedom activities of the Kashmiri masses.

The agency claimed to have found suspicious transactions running into crores linked to the case, but were yet to establish the chain of finances or the source. According to the agency, details of these funds were allegedly found in handwritten entries in account books maintained by Watali, a Kashmiri businessman, notes Indian Express (IE) in its report.

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