Seven people including Altaf Ahmed Shah, the son-in-law of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, were arrested on Monday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with its probe into the funding of terror and subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley, officials said.
The NIA registered the case against the separatists who, according to the agency, were acting in connivance with active militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtarane Millat, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and other organisations.
Hafeez Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba has also been named as an accused in the FIR besides the Hurriyat conference, Hizbul Mujahideen and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.
The NIA spokesman said the men were raising, receiving and collecting funds through illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. “They were using funds for causing disruption in Kashmir Valley by way of pelting stones on security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India.”
The NIA arrested seven Kashmiri separatists are Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Funtoosh, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Peer Saifullah, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate. Shahid-ul-Islam is a close aide and press secretary of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
The arrests come after NIA expressed its inability to question the Hurriyat leaders. The investigation agency had issued summons twice to these leaders, but they were unable to respond as they were under preventive custody in Jammu and Kashmir.
The earlier summons were sent on July 14 and July 17, asking the leaders to come to New Delhi, but none of them responded.
According to the sources from, the leaders are required by the agency to unearth the larger conspiracy and to establish the money trail from Pakistan. The investigation agency had earlier visited Srinagar in May to probe the allegations of terror funding by Pakistan for illegal activities in Kashmir. The agency is also trying to question the separatist leaders regarding their involvement raising, collecting and transferring funds through Hawala and other channels for terror funding in Kashmir.
The spokesman said the NIA also had conducted widespread searches in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana and recovered documents, electronic devices, cash and valuables worth several crores of rupees.
For the first time since the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s, a central probe agency had carried out raids in connection with the funding of separatists. In 2002, the Income Tax department had raided the establishments of some separatist leaders, including Geelani
Home Ministry Sources said the NIA decided to arrest the seven since they were not cooperating with the investigation and the agency had found evidence against them in connection with the case.“We have ascertained financial trails which are leading to some of these accused. It has also been ascertained that some of the funding has been coming from Pakistan,” an NIA officer said.
“We now seek to substantiate this technical evidence with investigation on the ground, starting with custodial interrogation of the seven Hurriyat leaders,” said an NIA officer.
The NIA officer said, “the technical evidence unearthed by NIA shows several layers of communication-…there are multiple contacts between the seemingly ‘professional’ stone-pelters and the top Hurriyat leaders.
Focusing on youth present at three or more stone-pelting locations across Pulwama, Anantnag, Badgam, Kulgam, Tral, Awantipora, Shopian and Baramulla, the NIA drew up a list of around 48 “habitual” stone-pelters and tracked their phone call records as well as social media activity.
Also, there is prima facie evidence of cash transfers from the Hurriyat leaders to the stone-pelters, indicating an ‘organised’ angle to the mob violence that followed after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8, 2016.”
The arrest of seven Hurriyat leaders on Monday comes after one-and-a-half months of painstaking investigation that unearthed electronic evidence of their communication links with four dozen J&K youths tracked repeatedly amid stone-pelting mobs over the past year.
An analysis of phone numbers active at locations witnessing stone-pelting protests intended to disrupt encounters between the security forces and terrorists led NIA investigators to several common participants. Some were tracked at up to eight different locations at different times since July 8, 2016.
Telephonic conversations, of the 48 ‘habitual’ stone-pelters showed them being in touch with local and mid-level Hurriyat leaders, who were allegedly connected to top separatists,revealed a terror-funding pattern: Separatist bigwigs passing funds to local leaders who would pay the youth to pelt stones and unleash mob violence.