Pakistan and the separatists have upped the ante and are showing no signs of cowing down which has left a lot of uncertainty in the Valley. The very fact that these separatists can go on and on is a lot to do with the fact that they have no dearth of resources and a minimum transaction made into their accounts would involve anything between Rs 25 to Rs 30 million.
Home Ministry officials and Intelligence Bureau officers say that these separatists are the ones who are blocking all forms of negotiations and the best way to curb them is to freeze their funds and also track down their resources.
In the year 2011 an operative by the name Hira Lal was arrested for circulating money through a hawala transaction. He was picked up from a hotel in Srinagar where he was found to be in possession of fake currency. During his interrogation he told the police that had been tasked to hand over funds to Kashmiri separatists and he had passed on Rs 30 million to the Lone brothers. He also said that the money to be paid off to the separatists was provided to him by the Pakistan’s High Commission.
The National Investigating Agency was handed over the task by the Home Ministry to combat this problem and also find the source of the funding and the purpose it was being utilized for. An NIA officer informed that a lot of funds were being generated through fake currency and also added that it was being paid off to separatists and terrorists in the Valley to keep the movement going. Some traces of money have also been found to have come in from the Pakistan establishment such as their embassies and high commissions as well, the officer also informed.
Following the questioning of Hira Lal, the investigating agency also stumbled upon further evidence of such funding. This time around it was found that the ISI had hired businessmen from Punjab to move hawala money into Kashmir. Most of the money that had been moved by these businessmen between Punjab and Kashmir were used to finance the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the investigation also found. Further it had also been found that these businessmen were getting the money in under the guise of trade along the Line of Control. Money was moving in freely between the years 2009 and 2011 and all were found to be hawala transactions and in the two years around Rs 3.4 billion had been moved. All this money was paid off to the separatists and the Lashkar militants in the valley, an Enforcement Directorate probe found.
The Home Ministry report on the funding which was prepared on the basis of the details provided by the Delhi special cell and the NIA has some startling facts in it. The report names 50 persons for using the LOC trade route and misusing it to move hawala money. These persons have sent out money to the tune of Rs 8 million in one installment. In the second installment it was found that money to the tune of Rs 3.1 million was handed over to a Hizbul Mujahideen operative in the valley.
The agencies have questioned over 90 persons in connection with these cases and have found that money was also being channelized through Saudi Arabia and also Europe to fund the separatists. Based on this a raid was conducted and the agencies recovered RS 14 million, 75000 Saudi Riyals, 2500 and 2000 Pounds.
In the year 2012 10 persons were arrested and an amount of Rs 9.9 lakh was recovered from them once again enroute to be paid off to the separatists. The persons who have been arrested included members of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir Mass Movement, People’s Conference, Democratic Freedom Party, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and Islamic Students Front. Members of terrorist groups belonging to the Hizbul, Lashkar, Al-Umer, Tehreek-e-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad were also part of the gang that were arrested from circulating money in the Valley.
The strongest case that was made out by the agencies was against Geelani who has been in getting funds since the year 1996 itself. As per the report, he has got funds from various channels amounting to Rs 198 million and Rs 100 million from Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir American Council respectively. The investigation showed that he had been channeling money to the Hizbul and the questioning of his aide, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat suggested that Rs 2 million was paid one time to the Hizbul. The NIA however says that they are still probing a direct link between Geelani and the money route alleged by Bhat and hence will not name as yet in the report.
Bhat who was questioned by the agencies in the year 2011 revealed that Pakistan had sent in Rs 45 million to be paid to create problems in the Valley between 2008 and 2011.
There are many such instances to prove that Pakistan has been funding separatists in the Valley which has ensured that peace never returns. The controversial Yasin Malik was named by a woman called Shazia Begum who was on her way to hand over 10000 US dollars to him in the year 2002. During the investigation it was found that the this was one part of the installment which was being transferred and Malik was alleged to have collected nearly 3 lakh US dollars from ISI sponsored NGOs in America. He had gone to America for a month in the year 2001 to collect funds.
IB officials say that the money that is being collected is not only used to fund activities of the Lashkar or the Hizbul. One may recollect the stone pelting incidents in the year 2010 which had brought the Valley to a grinding halt. The investigations would show that the separatists spent Rs 2.1 million to stage these protests. It is also stated that once the money enters the Valley it is parked with these separatists turned politicians.
Today the Government is extremely serious about controlling this menace. It has instructed the NIA to complete a thorough probe so that action can be taken to curb this menace entirely. There are several youth in Kashmir who are lured into creating trouble and are paid a sum for the same. It is an entirely different issue to control the terrorists, but when residents of the Valley indulge in creating unrest, it becomes extremely difficult for any government to handle it. The best way to put an end to this is by blocking all money transactions through hawala and other illicit channels into the Valley, the Intelligence Bureau report to the Home Ministry states.