June 2002 News

Geelani’s Monthly Expenses: Rs 1.5 Lakh

9 June 2002
The Statesman
Aloke Tikku

New Delhi: Ordinarily, Syed Ali Shah Geelani would have been any economist’s dream-come-true. A man with an income barely above the poverty line, owning three vehicles, four houses and providing employment to more than a dozen people. And paying them every month, a lot more than what he “earns” in a year. But it was a dream that was shattered today as I-T authorities raided his premises. Officials, however, did not come up with anything unexpected. They had been smarter than to believe that Syed Geelani’s annual income (as put down in his income tax returns ) at Rs 17,100; Rs 7,100 was the pension he received by virtue of being a legislator and another Rs 10,000 came in as agricultural income. As it transpired, it wasn’t the pension or the agricultural income that kept the Geelani family going. I-T officials say the golden goose, which kept them warm and cozy, was the ISI which routed funds through Kashmiri expatriates – either through the banking channels or hawala. It is suspected that Syed Geelani used to pass on the money to terrorist groups or other activists for secessionist activities. “But looking at the lavish lifestyle that he led, it seems there were a lot of leakages,” an official said, adding that it would take the department a few days to put a number to the value of his assets. By the end of the day, I-T officials had already unearthed close to Rs 11 lakh cash and US $ 10,000, a Tata Sumo and two Ambassador cars, vouchers relating to purchase of jewellery items, properties in Rawalpora on Srinagar Airport road and a house in South Delhi’s Malviya Nagar locality. This, of course, is in addition to the house in Hyderpora, Srinagar, where he lived till this morning. His wife says it is on rent but does not know the landlord. For the record, the Geelani family had the same explanation for the Malviya Nagar house. By evening, I-T sleuths dug up evidence to refute the claim. “A Delhi builder was paid Rs 14 lakh in cash to construct the house,” one of them said. His son-in-law Mr Iftikaar Geelani, who lived across the road in Malviya Nagar, had paid Rs 11 lakh in cash for his house but got it registered for Rs 2.5 lakh. And there was more. Five video cameras, two computers, passbooks leading the investigators to several bank accounts and lockers from Syed Geelani’s house in Kashmir. Of course, not every valuable found in his house had been paid for. An expensive diamond studded watch, gifted by the Pakistani Government was among them. “Most of his assets are benami purchases,” an official said. The expensive electronic gadgets at his Malviya Nagar house were purchased in the name of Mirazuddin, a Delhi-based schoolboy who is related to Hurriyat Conference executive member Gulam Mohammed Bhatt. In Srinagar, the Hurriyat Conference hardliner, who wanted the Kashmiri youth to brave the bullets and make Kashmir a part of Pakistan, hardly had to move a finger. He had 14 servants at his beck and call; each of them was paid a salary of Rs 2,000. And yes, he might be somewhere close to the poverty line if one were to believe his declared annual income, not his monthly calorie. Syed Geelani gave his wife a princely sum of Rs 25,000 to keep the household kitchen going. That, Syed Geelani might say is a pittance. It is estimated he had a monthly expenditure of Rs 1.5 lakh.

 

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