Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah will be subjected to a seven-day custodial interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with a Delhi court Wednesday allowing investigators to examine him in a decade-old case of money laundering for alleged terror financing. Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma sent Shah to ED custody after the agency submitted that he was not cooperating with the investigators. The case assumes importance as investigating agencies have cracked down on the Hurriyat leaders and yesterday, a court had allowed the National Investigating Agency to interrogate in its custody Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law — Altaf Ahmed Shah, popularly known as Altaf Fantoosh — and six other separatist leaders in a separate case of alleged terror funding in the valley to fuel unrest. Hours after they were sent to 10 days’ NIA custody, news of arrest of Shabir Shah came and he was brought to the national capital and produced before the court where the ED said the investigation against him was at a very serious stage. The agency told the court that a lot of money transactions were being probed in which Shah was not cooperating and despite multiple summons, he evaded the central probe agency.
Shabir Shah, however, denied the allegations and claimed that he was already being kept under house arrest. The court had earlier issued a non-bailable warrant against Shah after the ED claimed that he was evading summons issued to him in pursuance of the August 2005 case in which the Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Mohammed Aslam Wani (35), an alleged hawala dealer. Wani had claimed that he had given Rs 2.25 crore to Shah, following which the ED had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the duo.
Wani was arrested with a large cache of ammunition and Rs 63 lakh, allegedly received through ‘hawala’ channels from the Middle East, on August 26, 2005, the agency had said. Shah’s arrest came a day after Altaf and others — Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Shahid-ul-Islam, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmed Dar — were arrested by the NIA from the valley in a separate case of terror funding there. The seven were later produced before a Delhi court yesterday which sent them to 10 days’ NIA custody to examine their complicity in the case.
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The NIA submitted that it had received information that Hafiz Saeed, head of Jamat-ul-Dawah, and separatists, including members of Hurriyat Conference, had been acting in connivance with banned outfits like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and others, to raise and receive funds from inside and abroad through illegal channels, including hawala.
The money was being raised to fund separatist and terrorist activities in restive Jammu and Kashmir, it said, adding that the accused were involved in creating unrest by way of anti-India demonstrations and bandhs, which were done on their and others’ instructions and that the NIA had recovered account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups, including of the LeT and the Hizb, during its raids.