New Delhi/Srinagar: The NIA on Wednesday conducted searches at 16 locations in Kashmir and Delhi on traders who were allegedly indulging in hawala operations and using the money for funding terror and separatist activities, officials said.
The raids mostly targeted alleged hawala dealers in the national capital and businessmen involved in cross-border trade in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Cash of around Rs 2.20 crore … incriminating documents on financial transactions and digital devices, including laptops, mobile phones and hard discs, were seized,” the agency said in a statement.
According to the anti-terrorism agency, diaries containing contact details of hawala operators and traders and ledgers carrying accounts of companies trading across the Line of Control, the de facto border between the two countries, were also confiscated.
The border trade launched in 2008 as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan has pitted the NIA against the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The agency wants the trade scrapped, but chief minister Mehbooba Mufti wouldn’t allow it. Separatist leader Geelani’s sons questioned by NIA again in terror funding probe
J-K separatists may be receiving funds from Pakistan: govt
“We have fresh leads that suggest that the cross-LoC trade between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has become a major source of funding for separatist and violent activities in the Valley,” NIA chief Sharad Kumar said.
Of the 1,200 people allowed to trade, 50 are under the NIA’s lens for manipulating the value of goods, sources said. They allegedly inflated or undervalued goods and gave a part of the money to separatists.
The cross-LoC trade is a duty-free barter of goods produced in Jammu and Kashmir or PoK. The exchange is carried out at trade centres in Salamabad in Uri and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch.
The NIA said rules are flouted as “third-party goods” such as California almonds were brought from PoK.
“Travel documents of some entities showing their visits to the UAE have also been found,” the agency’s statement said.
56 criminal cases registered against separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over three decades
The search is continuing and suspects are questioned about the incriminating material, it added.
Among the six people whose homes and businesses were searched in Srinagar was Imran Kawoosa, who runs a prominent private school in the city.
The NIA registered an FIR in June against unnamed Hurriyat leaders, all-woman separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Millat and associates of Pakistan-based outfits Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba for getting money from LeT patron Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.
A month later, seven separatists, including Altaf Shah Fantoosh, the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader SAS Geelani, were arrested as part of a broader investigation into allegations that money from Pakistan funded last year’s unrest in the Valley that left 100 people dead.
According to the NIA, money is routed through six channels, including hawala, LoC trade, charities and “sale” of medical and engineering seats in Pakistan.
About 70 seats are reserved for Kashmiri students in some colleges in Pakistan and are given to those recommended by Hurriyat leaders. The separatists charge anywhere between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 40 lakh for a recommendation letter, the NIA alleged.