NIA questions Mirwaiz’s uncles in terror funding case

New Delhi, Jul 5 (PTI) Two maternal uncles of moderate Hurriyat conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and his close aides were today questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the funding of terror and separatist groups in the Kashmir Valley.

Maulvi Manzoor and Maulvi Shafat were served notices last week to appear before the agency today and the duo arrived and faced questions from the NIA sleuths, official sources said.

Both of them are retired senior government officers.

The questioning of the duo would continue for some days, they said.

Another close aide of the Mirwaiz, Shahid-ul-Islam, and businessman Zahoor Watali are being continuously grilled by the NIA for last seven days regarding alleged disbursement of funds.

The close scrutiny of the businessman’s account showed close proximity with some small-time politicians from the Kashmir Valley.

The questioning of the two by the officers of the central probe agency, which has registered a case against separatists and terror organisations operating in the Valley, will continue separately for few more days, they said.

The businessman has been asked about his association with the separatists, especially hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the sources said.

The NIA has sent fresh summonses to close aides of Geelani, including his son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh and his spokesman Ayaz Akbar, to appear before the agency, they said.

The agency was contemplating seeking a production warrant from a special court against the duo.

Both were placed under preventive custody by the Jammu and Kashmir police on June 27 on account of law and order situation in the Valley.

This move by the state police raised many eyebrows as neither of them had ever been taken into preventive custody during the peak of agitations earlier.

Shah was questioned by the NIA early last month after which he had sought time from the probe agency due to Ramzan and also Eid festivities, the sources said.

Shah has been asked by the NIA about his moveable and other properties, including houses in the Valley as well as in Jammu, and the source for their funding, they said, adding that the questioning also related to the alleged funds received by the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

Shah’s Srinagar house was raided by NIA sleuths, who also searched the premises of others like Shahid-ul-Islam, an aide of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who heads the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, and businessman Zahoor Watali.

Apart from being the son-in-law of Geelani, Shah is perceived to be influential in the evolving the policies of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

Hafeez Saeed, Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud Dawah, the front for 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 Umer Farooq), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Dukhtaran-e-Millat.

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

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