Confessional statements by ‘Charlie’, ‘Romeo’, ‘Alpha’ and five others are expected to be key evidence in the charge sheet filed in a court by the National Investigation Agency against 12 people, including Lashker-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, for funding anti-national activities in the Kashmir Valley. The NIA, while submitting the charge sheet in the case on January 18 this year, appended the eight confessional statements and code named those who have given the statements as ‘Charlie’, ‘Romeo’, ‘Alpha’, ‘Potter’, ‘Pie’, ‘Harry’, ‘Gama’ and an unidentified person. The NIA officials feel that the confessional statements will hold the key in nailing the culprits in the case. The probe agency, which registered a case against separatists in the Kashmir Valley on May 30 last year, managed to secure confessional statements on the flow of money, especially from Pakistan, from eight people accused in the case related to the funding of terror activities in Kashmir. A confessional statement is recorded before a judicial magistrate. The accused confirms in it that he or she is giving a statement without any pressure from the probe agency. The entire process was video-graphed and no investigation officer was present in the court premises during the proceedings when the accused gave their statements before a magistrate last year. In case of retraction later, the agency can file a case of perjury. The statements, made before a judicial magistrate, are aimed at tightening the case against separatists who allegedly funded stone-pelters and spread unrest in the Valley, the officials said on the condition of anonymity. The host of witnesses listed by the NIA in its charge sheet included Naim-ul-Zaffar Geelani, son of separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Yasir Gaffar Shah, son of arrested businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali.
While Naim-ul-Zaffar Geelani has given a four-page recorded statement, Yasir Gaffar Shah has recorded an eight-page statement with the NIA. Both have been named as prosecution witnesses. The probe agency, which arrested 10 people in connection with the case, filed a charge sheet against 12, including Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen terror group’s chief Syed Salahuddin, who are both in Pakistan. The charge sheet also names 42 protected witnesses in its list of 232 people who would be examined during the proceedings. The witnesses have been protected under section 43(3) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act under which the name and address of the person is not mentioned during the court proceedings.
The 42 protected witnesses are also covered under section 17 of NIA Act which provides that the proceedings shall be held ‘in-camera’. Among those arrested by the NIA included Altaf Ahmed Shah, the son-in-law of Geelani, Watali, Geelani’s close aides Ayaz Akbar, who is also spokesperson of the hardline separatist organisation Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Peer Saifullah, Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’, photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmed Bhat. The NIA had registered a case on May 30 against the separatist and secessionist leaders, including unknown members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other outfits and gangs, officials said.
The case was registered for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir and for causing disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India, the probe agency had said in the FIR. The FIR had also named organisations such as the two factions of the Hurriyat, one led by Geelani and the other Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women outfit of the separatists. Kamran Yusuf and Bhat were released on bail last week by a special court.