Kashmiri separatists, Hawalabaazi- a close nexus
The National Investigating Agency (NIA) raided some 32 locations of separatists and businessmen in Kashmir as well as in other parts of India and traced some lines between the separatists and their sponsors across border for funding terrorism in Kashmir. Some 2.5 crore rupees has been recovered in cash besides gold worth Rs.50 lakh and property related documents. These raids were conducted after the preliminary investigation revealed Havala connection between separatists and their terrorists and FIR lodged .Federal anti-terrorism officials searched the homes and offices of separatist leaders in Kashmir as part of an investigation into whether money from Pakistan was being used to fund violent street protests against the Indian government. They also recovered letter heads of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), laptops, mobile phones and gold jewellery. The locations raided in Old Delhi’s Ballimaran and Chandni Chowk belonged to suspected Hawala traders, who helped channel funds from Pakistan-based sources such as LeT and other individuals to separatists. The agency’s FIR alleged money received from Pakistan was being used to fund violence in the Kashmir, including an operation to increase stone pelting on security forces and arson that largely targeted schools and government buildings.
Now the million dollar question is that is it a news or breaking news? The fact of the matter is that it is neither news nor breaking news. It is there since inception of militancy in 1990 and even before. The militancy or more accurately terrorism started way back in 1980 in Punjab and its seeds were sown in Kashmir Valley in 1985 and 1986. The armed struggle took shape in 1989 with the intention of implementing Shari at (Islamic Law). The recent statement of Moosa who disassociated himself from Hizbul-Mujahedeen and Huriyat is right when he said that it is only an Islamic movement and the aim is to establish Caliphate and he is right. If it is not Islamic movement then why they are seeking alliance with Pakistan on the basis of Islam as religion? Moosa has rightly exposed these separatists as well as mainstream politicians who are just amassing wealth in the name of freedom struggle. They are constantly in touch with the Pakistani Govt. and is not a secret. They don’t cross border illegally but meet the Pakistanis leaders in the Indian capital and spit venom against India in the capital. That is the biggest tragedy. They don’t operate from outside and but get support and patronage from the people, whether lefts or opposition, within India. They get full media coverage and opportunity to present their viewpoint across the India and spit on the GoI. The funding of separatists is not a new phenomenon.
Nowhere in the world you can see the land which is involved in strife for such a long time but at the same time flourishing financially and economically. Last year the entire season was washed off due the after-effects of killing of dreaded terrorist Burhan Wani but you will be surprised to know that there was not a single cry or any complaint about the economic failure or the people have suffered financially. Such is the outflow of finances from across the border through Hawala. Actually the issue of Hawala was raised last year by none other than the BJP leaders from Valley who wanted central investigation to probe into assets created by the separatists. Enforcement Directorate, the agency involved in probing money laundering, was a part of the raiding parties. The prominent whose houses were raided are Altaf son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, close associate of Maulvi Omar Farooq, Bitta Karate, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Chairman of KKNF and Gazi of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. This is for the first time that central investigating agency is probing separatists since 1990. Earlier there were raids but no FIR or criminal case was filed.
Way back in 2015, it was reported in newspapers that the Kashmir unit of BJP has sought an audit of the assets of the separatists through National Investigating Agency. First it sounded incredible. Even the reporter has mentioned it as trivial but if it would have been accepted then, it would have dug out many skeletons. My hats off to these leaders who dared to challenge the separatists in their home turf, which could not be dreamt of by any other party either in Jammu or Srinagar. This demand could have been raised by any other party also so far, more particularly the old guards of BJP or Congress or NC, who consider themselves to be nationalists but nothing moved so far and ultimately it is the present BJP unit of Kashmir who have decided to take on dreaded secessionists at the peril of their lives. Now it is up to NIA to act and if they don’t then what alternate steps the Govt. is contemplating to in this regard, is to be seen.
It is the right time for the Govt and investigating team to probe the functioning of these separatist outfits and I see nothing objectionable in it. After all when we can act on the requests of US or any other country to freeze the assets of so many proclaimed offenders in their interests or those who have amassed illegal and black money or who are threat to these countries, why we can not act when it is in our interests. These Hawala Baazs` will put all hurdles against such investigations and will make all efforts to provoke the common people against the authorities probing the source of funds. They may also invoke religious card by saying that the particular community is being targeted but Govt. should not pay any heed to such ridiculous allegations which are just misleading and divert the attention of the common men who are otherwise aware of such misdeeds of these separatists.
If we will throw some light on the earlier life style and the engagement and vocation of these separatist leaders, they were all small timers and in shorter time they shot to prosperity and richness and every Kashmiri know it well.
Now if we look at the functioning of the modus operandi, it becomes clear that it is the funding that these separatists get, which is the root cause of problem in Kashmir. The funding of separatist leaders in J and K is a major racket and is the toughest cases for any investigating agency to crack and if we are able to squeeze these separatists of their money things will shape differently. As per the official version of agencies like NIA, ED and police are working together with the help of IB to curb funding for these separatists. For the Investigating Agencies it is difficult to track the trail. The money comes through the various sources. It lands through hawala or a drug deal. Money is parked in real estate and passed on to the separatists in instalments. Large sum of money come through Nepal. Transfer of money through is still a big deal. These hawala transactions are safe as compared to legal banking. It is very difficult to track the hawal trail as the money changes through so many hands and through two to three transactions. Every body in the valley knows that how a chosen few accumulated huge assets in the last two and a half decades while as the poor Kashmiri has become poorer. These separatists own huge palatial houses and business establishments.
No where in a conflict zone around the world has economy got such a boost as in Kashmir. This is the conclusive proof of the racket of Hawala revolving around the separatists and terrorists who keep the pot of terrorism and stone pelting to continue.
(The writer is a Social Activist and Convenor, Panun Kashmir)