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Militant funding case: NIA Court to frame formal charges against Yasin Malik, others on April 18


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 Special NIA Court on April 18 will frame formal charges against Yasin Malik and others in connection with the Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case. Earlier the court had ordered the framing of charges against several separatist leaders under UAPA and IPC.  Special NIA Judge Praveen Singh on Monday deferred the framing of formal charges against the accused persons in this case. The hearing has been deferred as two accused persons from Jail No. 4 could not be produced before the court. All other accused persons were produced before the court including Yasin Malik.  On March 16, 2022, the NIA Court had ordered the framing of charges against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, Kashmiri separatist leaders including Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam and others under various sections of UAPA in a case pertaining to the terrorist and secessionist activities that disturbed the State of J&K.  The court had also ordered the framing of charges against Kashmiri politician and former MLA Rashid Engineer, businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Bitta Karate, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Avatar Ahmad Shah, Naeem Khan, Bashir Ahmed Bhat, alias Peer Saifullah and several others under various sections of IPC and UAPA including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the country, unlawful activities, etc.  NIA special Judge Praveen Singh while passing the order said, “The analysis reflects that the statements of witnesses and documentary evidence have connected almost all the accused with each other and to a common object of secession, to the commonality of means they were to use, their close association to terrorist/ terrorist organizations under the guiding hand and funding of Pakistani establishment.”  The court noted that, during the course of arguments, none of the accused has argued that individually they do not have a secessionist ideology or agenda or that they have not worked for secession or advocated for the secession of the erstwhile State of J&K from the Union of India.  Witnesses after witnesses have deposed that APHC, its factions after division and JRL had only one object and that was the secession of J&K from the Union of India. Witnesses have connected accused Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Naeem Khan and Bitta Karate to APHC and JRL. Another witness has connected Er. Rashid to Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali who in turn is closely intertwined with APHC and Pakistani establishment/ agencies, the court noted.  However, the court had also clarified that whatever has been expressed in this order is a prima facie opinion although, a detailed discussion of the evidence had to be done because the arguments were advanced by both sides in much detail.  According to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) various terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Jaish-e- Mohd. (JeM) etc., with the support of ISI of Pakistan, perpetrated violence in the valley by attacking civilians and security forces. It was further alleged that in the year 1993, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) was formed to give political front to the secessionist activities.  The NIA charge sheet submitted that the Central Government received credible information that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Amir of Jammat-ud-Dawah and the secessionist and separatist leaders including the members of Hurriyat Conference have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organizations like HM, LeT, etc. for raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and abroad through various illegal channels including hawala.  The NIA also stated before the court that this has been done for funding separatist and terrorist activities in J&K and as such they have entered into a larger conspiracy for causing disruption in the valley by way of pelting stones on security forces, systematically burning of schools, damage to public property and waging war against India.  On this information, the Ministry of Home Affairs directed the NIA to register a case. Accordingly, the present case was registered by NIA for offences u/s 120B, 121, 121A of IPC and sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 38, 39 and 40 of UAPA.  NIA further added that during the investigation, it was also revealed that APHC and other secessionists instigate the general public, especially the youth to observe strikes and to resort to violence especially stone pelting on the security forces. This was done to create disaffection amongst the people of J&K towards the Government of India.  NIA also submitted that the investigation has revealed that the secessionists were mobilizing funds from all possible sources to fuel unrest and support the on-going secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir. The secessionists were getting funds from Pakistan, funds from Pakistan based terrorist organizations and from local donations. 

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