Srinagar: Key separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik will fly to Delhi on Saturday to court arrest before the National Investigating Agency (NIA).
Announcing this at a press conference held inside Srinagar’s historic Grand Mosque on Wednesday, the Mirwaiz and Mr Malik said the move was to counter NIA’s “harassment”.
Incidentally, home minister Rajnath Singh will begin his three-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir on the same day. He will be holding a series of meetings to review the law and order situation.
“The NIA has let loose terror across Jammu and Kashmir. Even our family members and relatives are being harassed. Those associated with us based on principles of political ideology, our activists, aides workers and others are being targeted too,” said the Mirwaiz.
He announced, “The Joint Resistance Leadership, including Geelani Sahib, Yasin Malik Sahib and myself will fly to Delhi and present ourselves for arrest at the NIA headquarters.”
Mr Malik added, “We will drive to the NIA headquarters straight from the airport to volunteer our arrest… this is the only way out to end the terror that NIA has unleashed in nook and corner of Kashmir.”
Mr Geelani could not turn up for the press conference “because he continues to be under house arrest.” He addressed the media via telephone.
Earlier in the day, NIA conducted raids at 27 locations in Srinagar, Delhi and Gurugram in a follow up to similar raids and arrests made during the past couple of weeks. DG NIA Sharad Kumar told reporters, “The raids have been carried out in several places in Delhi, Srinagar and Gurugram in connection with terror funding. Links of hawala operators, funders and cross LoC traders have emerged, based on which raids are being conducted.”
The NIA is reported to have seized Rs 2.2 crore in cash during the raids. But it is not clear if the money was confiscated in the fresh raids or earlier.
The agency had, during its initial 23 raids conducted in June in Srinagar, Delhi and Haryana, claimed seizing about Rs 2 crore cash, incriminating documents, letter-heads of some militant outfits, laptops and mobile phones. A large portion of that amount was seized from a Srinagar-based LPG dealer who is related to one of the separatist leaders arrested by the NIA.
Officials have said that the seizures have impacted terror funding and stone-pelting in the Valley which has reduced significantly in the past couple of months. There has also been a turnaround in the overall ground situation, they claim.
Some of the raids on Wednesday were conducted in the central Srinagar, the hotbed of stone-pelting campaign.
The Mirwaiz shrugged off the NIA raids, arrests and other action, saying these “won’t deter us from the path of right to self determination”.
“Our political struggle will continue come what may,” he added.
A statement issued at the presser accused the Modi government of following a policy of coercion, defamation and intimidation in Kashmir “as it does not want to address the actual issue”. It said, “The Government of India wants to change the whole narrative. Hence, diversionary tactics and propaganda is being used”.
Elaborating, the Mirwaiz said, “The narrative of the Kashmir dispute and our struggle for self-determination are being deliberately distorted and projected as a sponsored movement from across the border where money is the motivation and the end”.
Talking about the NIA’s actions, the separatist leaders said that their family members, friends, acquaintances and party cadres are being intimidated and harassed. “Anyone and everyone associated with us and the movement is being targeted. The NIA is using fear as a tool of intimidation against these people and psychologically tormenting them to put pressure on us”, they alleged.
The NIA has been probing alleged funding of terror and subversive activities in Kashmir Valley after a national TV channel had, in May, in a sting operation showed three separatist leaders admitting on camera that they had received funding from Pakistan and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a co-founder of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which has had sanctions placed against it as a terrorist organisation by the United States.