Hawala Finger At Kashmir Hawk8 August 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
New Delhi: A terror accused has told interrogators that Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani received Rs 2.5 crore in hawala money over the past two years, government sources said. The sources said there was a “likelihood of proceedings against Geelani”, but only if the investigators could establish a link between Geelani and his accuser Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, an alleged hawala courier. “If the court believes that the link exists, there may be proceedings,” a senior official said. Geelani, 81, is one of Kashmir’s top secessionists and an Islamabad favourite. Bhat was arrested early this year in Delhi. The case against him was handed over to the NIA in April. The agency filed its chargesheet against him on July 20 that mentions the timeline of the alleged money transactions that Bhat has referred to. The terror accused has told his interrogators he received Rs 40 lakh from his hawala contact in mid-September last year. The money was to be delivered to another contact at Srinagar’s Jhelum Valley College “for onward delivery to S.A.S. Geelani”, sources said. Bhat has also claimed that Geelani received sums of Rs 20 lakh six times between October 2009 and January 9-10 this year, the sources said. Bhat allegedly confessed to couriering sums of Rs 10 lakh three times between August 2009 and July 2010, and Rs 15 lakh in December 2009. Kashmiri militants and their sympathisers are known to receive hawala money but the allegation against Geelani is a first. In 2009 and 2010, hundreds of small sums were found to have been sent to Kashmir through the Western Union money transfer facility from places as far as Barcelona and Valencia. Some of these sums apparently found their way to the stone-throwing youths of last year’s agitation, intelligence sources said. Geelani also faces a sedition case following his alleged anti-India speech at a Delhi seminar last October. His fellow speaker, writer Arundhati Roy, is a co-accused in the sedition case. The Hurriyat leader recently made headlines when he changed his long-time position to demand self-determination not only for the Valley but for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as well.