In a crackdown against the separatist leaders, the central agencies – NIA and ED – since July had carried out a number of raids and arrested many leaders, businessmen over alleged hawala transactions and terror funding. One of the main arrests made was that of Kashmiri businessmen Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali. The 65-year-old was arrested by the NIA, as it claims to have evidence of his role in hawala trading and financing of separatist leaders, as reported by Indian Express. Watali has reportedly told the NIA about his political contacts in India and Pakistan. Here is the list of all separatist leaders of Kashmir who were recently arrested by the central agencies, as per The Indian Express.
1. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali: A mill owner, realtor, broker– was arrested by the NIA last week as he was allegedly involved in hawala trading and financing of separatist leaders. Watali has three sons and all are doctors. His eldest son Yameen Zahoor, is set to join a hospital in Dubai. His brother is DIG of Kashmir, A M Watali (retd) – when his son got married in 2011, top politicians and bureaucrats from Pakistan, separatist leaders, besides Yasin Malik and other leaders of Kashmir attended.
2. Shabir Shah: He was arrested by Enforcement Directorate in a 12-year-old case of money laundering. He was also an MLA and is one of the most senior hardline leaders in the Valley. ED said he is joint owner of a hotel in Pahalgam and has bank deposits worth crores. He also received funds from foreign sources which he used in unlawful activities. Shah owns an ancestral house and another palatial house in Budgam, a two-storey house in Jammu and properties in Anantnag, as per IE.
3. Mohd Aslam Wani: Wani is allegedly a hawala trader. He was also accused along with Shah in the 2005 money laundering case. Probe agencies seized Rs 62 lakh from him then. Wani has already been discharged in the case under the anti-terror Act UAPA, Shah’s counsel has said. He was, however, convicted of for an offense punishable under the Arms Act.
4. Altaf Ahmad Shah aka Fantoosh: He is the son in law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He was among the first to be raided by the NIA. Fantoosh is now in judicial custody. In 1986, when Geelani was admitted to Soura Hospital, Fantoosh frequently visited the hospital, an impressed Geelani offered his daughter’s hand in marriage reportedly. Fantoosh is also one of the founders of Geelani’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, as per IE.
5. Peer Saifullah: Saifullah is one of the key men in Hurriyat. He is the personal secretary to Geelani. According to NIA, he possesses information relating to the finances of Geelani and the Hurriyat. NIA have seized bank account details and literature on the separatist struggle.
6. Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal: Kalwal is one of the district presidents of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat’s. NIA said he used funds raised and received by Hurriyat to invest in properties. NIA claims to have seized documents relating to land deals and blank letterheads of the Hurriyat Conference signed by Geelani.
7. Nayeem Khan: Khan led the National Front that was part of the Hurriyat conglomerate. During his student days, Khan was close to JKLF chairman Yasin Malik. He was also the founder of the student organisation Islamic Student League. Geelani has temporarily suspended Khan’s National Front from the separatist conglomerate. His arrest came three months after the suspension. NIA have seized bank passbooks, jewellery and documents relating to properties during the raids, as per The Indian Express.
8. Shahid-ul Islam: Islam is the media adviser to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of the moderate Hurriyat faction. He is now in judicial custody. According to investigators he is a key link in their terror funding probe and believe he holds information regarding properties and bank accounts where funds received from Pakistan have been invested.
9. Farooq Ahmed Dar aka Bitta Karate: He was a militant. He was associated with J&K Liberation Front headed by Yasin Malik in the 1990s. After being released from jail he became chairman of JKLF(R) in 2009. NIA have seized the visiting card of the Pakistani naval attache in India, property documents in his wife’s name etc.