Cracking down on terror funding in line with its probe into subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley, officials at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested seven leaders of Kashmiri separatist organisation Hurriyat Conference.

Who all have been arrested?

Seven people, including Altaf Ahmed Shah (popularly known as Altaf Fantoosh), son-in-law of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, were arrested, according to NIA officials. Altaf was in the custody of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police, who had put him in preventive detention immediately after the festival of Eid earlier this month.

Besides him, Geelani’s close aides Tehreek-e-Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar and Peer Saifullah were arrested by the NIA from the Valley. The NIA also arrested Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesman of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

The others arrested are Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Nayeem Khan (of the Hurriyat’s Geelani faction) and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’.

How did the arrest happen?

The houses of those arrested had been raided by NIA sleuths last month. The raids were part of the NIA’s efforts at clamping down on separatist groups allegedly receiving funds for subversive activities in the Valley.

About the accused against whom the FIR has been filed

Altaf is perceived as an influential force in the Tehrek-e-Hurriyat. Hafeez Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of the Jamaat-ul Dawah, the front of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has been named in the FIR as an accused besides organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference (factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz Farooq), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

What did the NIA find?

The NIA had recovered account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups, including of the LeT and HM, from the raids.

The NIA investigation also seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, including those who allegedly masterminded the throwing of stones at security forces, burnt down schools and damaged government establishments.

Why are these raids important?

For the first time since the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s, a central probe agency had carried out raids in connection with the funding of separatists. 

In May, Geelani suspended Naeem Khan after video showing him admitting to taking money from Pakistan to create unrest in the Kashmir Valley was aired by a television channel. 

Times Now reported that the agency has also held several raids in the homes of Hurriyat leaders in the past few months. In 2002, the Income Tax department had raided the establishments of some separatist leaders, including Geelani, and seized cash and documents.

b’Report says Syed Ali Shah Geelani will also be sent notices along with other leaders. Credit: PTI’

What is happening now?

The arrested were presented before Delhi court on Tuesday and the NIA asked for an 18-day custody for them, India Today reported.

Notices will be sent to separatist leaders like Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik, the report said. Meanwhile, J&K authorities are cautious about any unrest and have imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar. Hurriyat had given a shutdown call across Kashmir on Tuesday against the NIA arrests. 

Feature image source: PTI