The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday, 26 February, carried out its first-ever raids on the residences of top ranking separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Ashraf Sehrai at a time when most of the separatist activists have been either detained in jails or placed under “house arrest”.
Details Of The Raids
Official sources told The Quint that surprise raids were conducted simultaneously on the residences of six prominent separatists and the hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son Naseem Geelani, a faculty member with Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, who, along with his brother Dr Nayeem Geelani, had been called to New Delhi several times last year and reportedly interrogated on funding of different separatist leaders.
Escorted by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the NIA teams raided the houses of the Chairman of Awami Action Committee and Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, at Nageen, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik at Maisuma, Chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Mohammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai at Bagaate-e-Barzullah, General Secretary of Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference Massarat Alam Bhat at Zaindar Mohalla besides the residences of JKSM Chairman Zaffar Akbar Bhat and Naseem Geelani at Rawalpora, all in Srinagar.
Sources said that the raids were in connection with the investigation into the FIR registered over terror funding in New Delhi in the year 2017. Over a dozen separatist leaders and businesspersons have been already arrested and detained in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, even as questioning of some top separatist leaders is still underway.
Currently, the JKLF Chairman Yaslin Malik has been detained at Kothibagh Police Station while Shabir Shah, Massarat Alam and Zaffar Akbar Bhat are in different jails in Jammu and Delhi.
It was for the first time that NIA conducted a raid and carried out a search on the houses of Mirwaiz and Sehrai. The cleric-politician Mirwaiz, who has headed a faction of the Hurriyat Conference since long, has substantial influence in downtown Srinagar while Sehrai is the hardliner Geelani’s confidante and father of one of the most wanted commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen.
Officials maintained that none of the separatist leaders were arrested in the series of raids on Tuesday.
Links To Terror Outfits Found
According to authoritative sources, the NIA teams recovered incriminating documents including property papers, financial transactions receipts and bank account details. Electronic devices including laptops, e-tablets, mobile phones, pen drives, communication system and DVRs were also seized during the searches.
Significantly, letter heads of different terrorist organisations as well as documents relating to recommendations for visa for admission in the Pakistani educational institutions were also seized. A high-tech internet communication set-up was also recovered from the residence of Mirwaiz.
The FIR has been lodged in May 2017 after the Central government received information that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Amir of Jammat-ud-Dawah and some separatist leaders, including the members of Hurriyat Confrence, were acting in connivance with militants and the secessionist groups like Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other “terrorist organisations/associations/gangs” for raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and abroad through various illegal channels, including Hawala networks.
The accused had allegedly entered into a larger criminal conspiracy for causing disruption in the Kashmir valley by way of pelting stones at security forces, systematically burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India.