Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali has claimed that he played a pivotal role in securing the presence of former Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif in New Delhi for the oath taking ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014, according to Indian Express report. He had made this claim during an interogation by National Investigation Agency (NIA). Notably, Watali was arrested by the NIA for allegedly collecting money from Pakistan-based terror outfits for Hurriyat leaders, as per reports. He also has told investigators that he was part of an effort by the Hurriyat to act as mediator between India and Pakistan during the Kargil war. The offer, however, was rejected by Islamabad, he claimed, IE reported today.
Watali claimed that the offer of acting as mediator was a ploy by the Hurriyat to “legitimise itself”. The businessman also claimed that he had accompanied People’s Conference (PC) patriarch Abdul Gani Lone during a visit for treatment to the US. During the visit Lone allegedly met former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. During that meeting, Lone allegedly told Bhutto that his first choice would be an independent Kashmir but if left with no options, would prefer to go with India, Watali told NIA, the IE report says.
It has been learnt that Watali had business interests in Pakistan and some Gulf countries. He also revealed that he arranged meetings of Hurriyat leaders at his residence in New Delhi to initiate dialogue between the Centre and separatist leaders on a number of occasions, the report says.
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On August 10, Watali was sent to 10-day custodial interrogation by a city court. The court was told during an in- chamber proceedings by the probe agency that it had found various suspicious documents from the accused during the searches, including details of bank accounts and cash received by him from various terror outfits, PTI reported. Earlier, the NIA also alleged that the accused was not cooperating in the investigation.