Indian agency files chargesheet against LeT, Hizbul chiefs

The National Investigation Agency sought permission to continue its probe related to terror funding in the state

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency on Thursday filed a charge sheet against 12 people, including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin, for “conspiring to wage war against the government” by carrying out terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA filed the 12,794-page charge sheet, along with annexure, before a designated court in New Delhi and sought permission to continue its probe related to terror funding in the state, the agency said in a statement in New Delhi on Thursday.

The agency has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin along with 10 others for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, it said.

NIA officials said they had gathered substantial material and technical evidence during the probe.

They said 60 locations were raided and 950 incriminating documents seized. There are 300 witnesses in the case.

Besides Saeed and Salahuddin, the agency has also named hardline pro-Pakistan separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Bashir Ahmad Bhat, businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali and photo journalist Kamran Yousuf, who has been identified along with Javed Ahmad Bhat as a stone pelter.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat have also been charged by the agency.

The agency has charged the Hurriyat leaders with acting under the overall guidance of and instructions from Saeed and Salahuddin and their “Pakistani handlers” and plotting strategies to launch violent protests. They communicated these to the people in the form of “protest calendars” released through newspapers, social media and religious leaders, it said.

These acts aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir, the NIA alleged.

‘Criminal conspiracy’

The NIA said a “threadbare scrutiny and analysis” of documents and digital devices seized by it established that the Hurriyat leaders, terrorists and stone pelters were carrying out “terrorist attacks, orchestrating violence, stone pelting and other subversive and secessionist activities” in the state.

These actions were a “part of their well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched with the active support, connivance and funding from terrorist organisations based in Pakistan and its agencies to achieve their objective of secession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by waging war against the Government of India,” the agency alleged.

“The gang of the accused persons is receiving funds from Pakistani agencies through hawala conduits such as accused Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali and others and also raising funds by generating illegal profits from LoC barter trade by doing under-invoicing and cash-dealings,” it alleged.

It claimed money was also routed through fake and bogus companies floated abroad and remitted to the Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

“All these funds are then pumped by them into fuelling mass violence and terrorist activities so as to cause damage to public property, disrupt essential services, throwing normal life in the state into chaos with an intention to threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by striking terror in the minds of the public and by waging war against the government of India,” the agency said.

The judicial custody of 10 accused people arrested in connection with the case ended on Thursday.

Under the anti-terror law — the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act — the prosecuting agency has to file a charge sheet within six months, failing which an accused is eligible for bail.

The NIA had arrested Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh, son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shahid- ul-Islam, spokesperson of the Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-led moderate Hurriyat Conference, Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson of the Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat, and separatists Nayeem Khan, Bashir Bhat alias Peer Saifullah and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal in the case.

Businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali was also arrested by the NIA in connection with the case, which was registered after the Valley was rocked by violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight with security forces in 2016.

Former JKLF militant Bitta Karate, photo journalist Kamran Yousuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat have also been named in the charge sheet.

The NIA also recorded confessional statements on the flow of money, especially from Pakistan, from four people accused in a case related to the funding of terror activities in Kashmir.

The statements given before a judicial magistrate had tightened the case against the separatists who allegedly funded stone pelters and spread unrest in Kashmir, the officials said.

While three of them have been formally arrested, the fourth one was detained and subsequently let off after he said he would become an approver, the officials said, declining to divulge their names.


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