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NIA to file chargesheet against Kashmiri separatist leaders on Thursday

NIA to file chargesheet against Kashmiri separatist leaders on Thursday
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New Delhi: A chargesheet against seven Kashmiri separatists and a businessman in a case of funding terror in the Kashmir Valley will be filed by the NIA on Thursday, the day their judicial custody ends, officials said.

According to National Investigation Agency (NIA) sources, the agency will file the chargesheet against the arrested separatist leaders and a businessman under various sections of money laundering and waging war against country as the judicial custody ends on January 18.

A Delhi court on January 12 extended the judicial custody of the eight accused till January 18.

The eight have been charged with receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting in Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir was rocked by violent protests after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with security forces on July 8, 2016.

An official of the agency said that they will be charged under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAP Act of 1967) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Section 121 Waging, or attempting to wage war against the state and Section 120 B entering into criminal conspiracy.

According to a senior official of the agency, the main chargesheet prepared by the NIA contains close to 50 pages and the annexure attached to the chargesheet, may run into nearly 5,000 pages.

On July 24, 2017, the NIA arrested seven of them — Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah — on charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against India.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir`s merger with Pakistan. Islam is a close aide of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Khandey is the spokesperson for the Geelani-led Hurriyat.

Businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, accused of acting as a conduit for channelling funds for separatists and terror activities in the Kashmir Valley, was arrested on August 17 last year.

He was allegedly collecting funds from Pakistan and banned terrorist organisations and transferring the same to Hurriyat leaders.

Watali is known to be friends with Pakistani leaders as well as separatists, besides leading politicians in Kashmir, the NIA said.

The NIA has filed a case against the separatist leaders on May 30 following a sting operation by a television channel after the Geelani-led Hurriyat suspended Nayeem Khan confessed that Hurriyat leaders had been receiving funds from Pakistan for subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley.

Hafeez Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of the Jamaat-ul Dawah, the front of the banned Lashker-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.

The NIA had questioned the arrested persons after the May 2017 expose. The counter-terror probe agency had also conducted raids in Srinagar, Jammu, Delhi and Haryana and reportedly seized incriminating evidence against those involved in receiving, acting as intermediaries and final beneficiaries of funds coming from Pakistan.

India has for decades accused Pakistan of arming, financing and training militants fighting to end Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Islamabad says it provides only political and diplomatic support.

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