India Cracks Down On Kashmiri Separatists As Relations With Pakistan Sour

23/08/2015 12:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Amid growing tensions between India and Pakistan, the Indian government has seemingly cracked down on Kashmiri separatist leaders. While Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was put under house arrest on Sunday, the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to separatist leader Shabir Shah under 'Prevention of Money Laundering Act' over terror financing through Hawala.

"I will appear before ED on 12th October," Shah told ANI over telephone.

Meanwhile, Hurriyat leader Bilal Lone, who was under detention for almost 24 hours was released on Sunday.

The Indian government's actions come at a time when NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan have been called off due to the former's refusal to discuss the Kashmir issue this time. While Pakistan pushed for putting Kashmir on the agenda for these talks, even extending invites to Hurriyat leaders to meet ahead of the diplomatic talks between the two nations, India has remained firm on its position to exclusively discuss terrorism and border tranquility for the NSA-level talks.

Earlier, the Pakistan government made it clear that the Kashmir issue was the biggest item on their agenda for talks with India. By extending an invitation to the Hurriyat leaders to meet with them ahead of the diplomatic talks, they acknowledged that the separatists were important stakeholders in this debate. India, on the other hand, has reacted strongly to this, warning of "action" if Hurriyat leaders are included in this discussion.

On Sunday, Geelani was put under house arrest hours before he was supposed to address a seminar today in Srinagar. This is the second time this week that he has been put under house arrest.

While his supporters protested outside his house, demanding that his detention be lifted, police resorted to using water cannons and tear gas to disperse them. Several people were reported injured.

Meanwhile, ED has issued fresh summons to Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah, who is at present in Delhi, for questioning in connection with a decade-old case of terror financing through 'hawala channel'.

Shah, who is the Chairman of Democratic Freedom Party of Jammu and Kashmir, received the summons today at a south Delhi guest house where he was detained yesterday by Delhi Police. He had come to Delhi to meet with Pakistani officials who were earlier scheduled to land in the capital ahead of the now-cancelled NSA-level talks.

Sources told PTI that Shah has been summoned at the Delhi zonal office of the agency here this week.

This is the third attempt by the agency to serve summons on Shah in a August 2005 case where Delhi Police's Special Cell arrested Mohammed Aslam Wani, an alleged hawala dealer, who had claimed that he had passed on Rs 2.25 crore to Shah.

While the agency had said its earlier summons were not replied by Shah, the Kashmiri leader had in the past told PTI that the case was "politically motivated".

Wani, who is at present out on a bail, has also been summoned by the ED, which registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against him and Shah. Wani was arrested allegedly with Rs 63 lakh received through 'hawala' channels from the Middle East and a large amount of ammunition on August 26, 2005.

During questioning, he had claimed before police that Rs 50 lakh was to be delivered to Shah and Rs 10 lakh to the Jaish-e-Mohammad 'area commander' in Srinagar Abu Baqar while the rest of the money was to be his commission.

Wani (35), who hailed from Srinagar, also claimed that he had delivered about Rs 2.25 crore to Shah and his kin in several instalments over the past year.

Wani, who ran a computer shop with his brother-in-law Feroz Mattoo, had come in contact with Shah early in 2004 when he had sold him a computer, police had said.

According to sources, Shah had allegedly asked Wani to channel 'hawala' money to him from Delhi for which he was paid three per cent as commission.

He had also allegedly given Wani the phone number of one Saifi based in Muzaffarabad?in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) who gave him instructions to collect the money.

Wani had come in contact in March, 2005, with Abu Baqar who had directed him to collect a consignment of explosives, arms and ammunition from Delhi, the sources said.

Wani was arrested along with 5 kg RDX, 10 detonators and a foreign-made pistol with 15 live cartridges from an East of Kailash apartment in south Delhi.

In response to the summons issued to him, Shah said he would present himself before the ED in October, agency sources said.

(with agency inputs)

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