The NIA on Wednesday raided 12 locations in Kashmir in connection with its terror funding probe, targeting businessmen suspected for funding terrorism in kashmir from Pakistan to separatists and terrorists in India.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) team has now reached the doors of traders and businessman in Jammu and Kashmir in its probe into the funding of terrorism in Kashmir from Pakistani terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to fuel violence in the valley.
Searches on Wednesday were carried out at 12 locations in Srinagar, Baramulla and Handwara districts.
The agency carried out raids on properties of relatives of Zahoor Watali, a prominent businessman in the Valley and a known Hurriyat supporter. The NIA is also raiding the houses and office of Shafi Rishi, a prominent lawyer in Kashmir and Peerzada Nabi, a prominent businessman.
According to a senior officer, after separatist leaders various ISI-backed businesses are under the radar for funnelling funds to separatists and terrorists.
A Srinagar businessman, Zahoor Watali, tops the list of alleged financers of Kashmiri troublemakers. Watali has been under the NIA scanner for nearly two months and has been called for repeated questioning at the agency’s Delhi headquarters.
According to sources, Watali is resident of Srinagar’s Baghat Barzulla neighbourhood and is known for his proximity to political leaders across the spectrum, opposition and ruling parties alike. Watali’s business empire spans from Kashmir to the UAE to Europe, spread across realestate and international trade.
In the raid, NIA officers claim, they have seized receipts of foreign funding terrorism in Kashmir and further transfer of money to dubious places in the Valley. A series of transactions done by him is under scanner. Intelligence officials disclosed they suspect his companies were a facade hiding money laundering and terror finance.
Officers have found that he has received monthly inward remittances of `2 lakh-`2.6 lakh from Dubai into his bank accounts in the national Capital. Watali also had an account at the UAE Bank, from where he transferred more than `53.6 lakh from March to December in 2011, sources said.
MAIL TODAY made several attempts to contact Watali for his comment but he could not be reached. Watali is under NIA scanner for past two months but he has not been officially named in the case yet. Official sources said evidences have been found against Watali, Rishi and Nabi about their involvement in the terror funding.
Watali’s residence in Gurugram, Delhi and Srinagar were raided on June 4 as part of the ongoing investigation.
The NIA had also questioned the sons of pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on August 8 over his alleged links with Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa and LeT.
The NIA had also questioned DSP Faheem Ali, who handles separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq’s security, in connection with the case.
Ali was the first police officer from the state to be interrogated by the NIA.
The agency has so far arrested seven people – Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-inlaw Altaf Ahmed Shah, Ayaz Akbar Khanday, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Peer Saifullah (all from Geelani’s faction of Hurriyat), Shahid-ul-Islam (of the faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq), Nayeem Khan of the Jammu Kashmir National Front and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karatay of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front(R).