February 2003 News

Noose around Hurriyat chief; Habib statement recorded

16 February 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India

New Delhi: Amidst raging controversy over alleged funding of separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan High Commission here through Hurriyat leaders, the 25- party amalgam would be meeting soon to discuss the issue which has raised several eye-brows in the valley.Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat is facing tremendous pressure from within the amalgam to explain his position after its activists, arrested for receiving money from the Pakistan High Commission, alleged they had taken the funds for him, a senior leader of the amalgam said on condition of anonymity.Bhat was also facing some problems from Pakistan as Hurriyat's mentors across the border wanted to remove him from chairmanship of the amalgam, he said.The Hurriyat leader said the executive meeting of the amalgam was likely to be held this week during which the future strategy would be chalked out. Meanwhile, statement of Anjum Zamrooda Habib, chief of Muslim Khawateen Markaz, and main accused in alleged funding of separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, was recorded before a deputy commissioner of police. As per the POTA law, she would have to confirm the statement before a judge after which it would be taken as  'confessional' statement.  Habib and Shabir Dar, Delhi-based spokesman of Hurriyat, arrested by Delhi police on February 6 for accepting money from Pakistan High Commission, have alleged that it was meant for Bhat for funding separatist movement.  Habib had also confessed before the designated POTA judge SN Dhingra that she had visited the Pakistan High Commission at the instance of Bhat and the amount of Rs 3.07 lakh recovered from her was to be given to Bhat as  'nazrana' (token money) . In the meantime, Delhi police was likely to take a decision about questioning Bhat.  The police was also studying the data of 27 floppies, 23 audio cassettes,  27 video cassettes and 26 mp8  cassettes seized from the office of the Hurriyat Conference during a raid here last week. The raid followed the arrest of amalgam's Delhi-based spokesman and the recovery of Rs two lakh from him.The Delhi police, on a tip-off from the intelligence agencies had arrested Habib for receiving Rs 3.07 lakh allegedly from expelled Pakistan charge d'affaires Jaleel Abbas Jilani.Habib had revealed during interrogation that Dar also used to receive money from Pakistan High Commission.The expelled diplomat has also been named in the FIR registered in this connection.  The controversies over bungling in funds has been dogging the Hurriyat ever since its inception with senior Jamaat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani facing criticism from various militant groups for allegedly swindling crores of rupees meant for victims of Chrar-e-Sharief in late 1990s.JKLF chairman Yaseen Malik was arrested last year under similar charges which was followed by arrest of Geelani for allegedly supplying money to terrorist groups.


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