The National Investigation Agency (NIA) took a significant step in the Hurriyat terror funding case by attaching 17 properties belonging to Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, a key accused involved in financing terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. According to the reports by Hindustan Times, this move comes as part of the ongoing investigation, which previously led to the conviction of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) commander Yasin Malik and the chargesheeting of other prominent figures such as Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin.
The case, registered by the NIA in May 2017, revolves around the activities of Pakistan-backed organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), JKLF, and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that have been responsible for spreading terror and carrying out violent attacks on civilians and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA Court, acting under section 33(1) of the UA(P) Act, ordered the attachment of Watali's properties located in the Handwara area of Kupwara in Kashmir.
Investigations conducted by the NIA uncovered a web of connections, revealing that these banned terror groups had been utilizing the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) as a front to support secessionist activities in the Kashmir valley. The accused, including the APHC, were found to be part of a criminal conspiracy aimed at inciting the general public and fostering a charged atmosphere in the region to further their secessionist agenda. Watali, acting as a hawala conduit, had been channeling funds received from various sources to Hurriyat leaders in order to promote the secession of Jammu & Kashmir from India.
NIA's investigation also exposed Watali's financial transactions with Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind behind the 2001 Parliament attacks and the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks. Foreign remittances amounting to crores of rupees were traced to Watali's accounts between 2011 and 2013, with unexplained remittances discovered in his NRE Bank accounts and his Proprietorship Firm named M/s 'Trisson International'. Moreover, the agency revealed discrepancies in the ownership of a plot of land claimed by Watali's company, M/s 'Trison Farms and Constructions Pvt. Ltd.', highlighting further complexities in the case.