The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is currently probing what is being said in hushed voices since a long time. Kashmiri separatists are funded by Pakistan. A recent news channel 'expose' opened the can of worms and alleged that recent unrest in Kashmir Valley was directly financed by Pakistan's agencies.
The NIA questioned Kashmiri separatists for the second day on Sunday in connection with its probe into the role of LeT chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in subversive activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
But this is nothing new. In fact, the plot to induce tension in Kashmir was first unearthed in 2011 when NIA arrested Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, legal advisor to separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had then floated his own front called Tehreeki-Hurriyat. The arrest happened a year after the 2010 round of protest and stone-pelting that paralysed normal life in the Valley for months.
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The NIA probe in 2011 revealed that Pakistan-based sources gave Bhat little over Rs 2 crore between 2009 and early 2011 through hawala channels.
But what is more interesting is the identity of these Pakistan-based sources. According to a report in Economic Times, individuals who had fled to become militants in the 1990s with the Hizbul Mujahideen and related outfits have now become the clogs in the terror-financing network.
Past their prime 'fighting' age, the terrorist seeking fresh relevance through this role include Maqbool Pandit in Pakistan, Aijaz Bhat in Saudi Arabia, Ginai in Delhi and Ghulam Mohammed Bhat in Srinagar and these are allegedly the last link to the Geelani-led separatist group, the report said.
Mohammed Maqbool Pandit, who fled to Pakistan two decades ago, is allegedly handling the Pakistan end of the financial network, which allegedly leads up to Geelani through Bhat.
"Maqbool’s daughter is, incidentally, married to Gulam Bhat’s son. Maqbool used his daughter’s phone frequently to convey messages to the Indian end. The first red flag came up in 2007 when a Tata Sumo was intercepted in Udhampur on its way to Srinagar with around Rs 46 lakh cash stashed in the CNG cylinder. Questioning of the couriers revealed that the money was handed over by Bhat who was to receive it himself at Srinagar for onward delivery to Geelani. The cash packaging also bore Hizbul Mujahideen stamp," the report said.
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"Bhat’s premises were raided, he was placed under detention, but the case couldn’t be fully rounded off. In 2011, he was picked up red-handed receiving money at Bemina Bypass, Srinagar, along with one Mohammed Sidiq Ginai, who too had gone to Pakistan in the 1990s. Ginai later revealed that one Col Abdullah and Major Iqbal of the ISI were his handlers in Pakistan until he was sent back via Nepal. Ginai had known Maqbool and teamed up with him in the latest enterprise to move money to the separatists, claimed the NIA chargesheet," it said.
Maqbool, it appeared never returned to India since he fled, and along with one Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, again a face from the 1990s, worked to raise funds in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Aijaz, according to NIA, later shifted to Jeddah, so as to help route the funds from Pakistan to India via Saudi Arabia.
Maqbool and Aijaz Bhat, though identified as absconders, remain at large outside India, while the case continues. The worry for agencies is that the ones oiling the supply chain are the hardcore terrorists of 1990s.