Sunday, April 8, 2012

Govt expands SIT

The Government today expanded the Special Investigating Team (SIT), constituted yesterday to investigate links, hawala transactions, terror funding and other activities of Kashmiri separatist Sayyid Ghulam Nabi alias Fai, by adding two more senior members to it including one from the Intelligence wing of State police and another from prosecution. Junaid Mehmood, SP CID (Counter Intelligence), Kashmir and Chief Prosecuting Officer (SPO) Srinagar have been added to the SIT headed by Uttam Chand, an IPS officer, presently posted as SSP Badgam, official sources said. They added that the Intelligence officer would share information gathered by Intelligence agencies of other States and the Central agencies about Fai’s network in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country while the prosecution officer would assess extent of involvement of the accused and evidence against them.

The State Government has asked the SIT to begin its task immediately and try to submit their findings and recommendations as early as possible. Besides going into the network of Fai and collecting enough evidence against them for prosecution, the SIT was likely to quiz all the persons, who had attended pro-Pakistan and anti-India conferences and seminars organized by Fai in United States over a period of time.

"The SIT would interrogate all those persons, whose names have figured during questioning of Fai in the United States and all those, who had been in frequent touch with him in the United States’’, sources said.

They added that the SIT has been asked to gather details from all Intelligence agencies of the country mainly the Intelligence Bureau pertaining to links of Fai.

So far, the names of persons, as per the information gathered by the Intelligence agencies, who had attended conferences of Fai or supported him one way or the other, included Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, Attiya Inayatullah, Gautam Navlakha, Rajmohan Gandhi, Ved Bhasin, Karen Parker, Zaffar Shah, Zahid G Muhammad, Hamida Bano and Jatinder Bakhshi etc, sources said.

According to sources, Fai had routed hawala money to various separatist leaders, militant commanders, individuals, journalists, intellectuals, newspapers, NGOs and other organisations to support Pakistan’s view point on Kashmir and allege that security forces were committing large scale human rights violations in Kashmir in a bid to defame them.

As reported, in connection with participants from India to the 11th annual conference of KAC, a national newspaper quoting from the footnotes of Attorney’s report had said, "Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was supported and controlled by the ISI. Fai invited Attiya Inayatullah to KAC conferences at the ISI’s direction. Gautam Navlakha was introduced to an ISI General for recruitment by Fai at the ISI’s behest". Navlakha is a civil rights activist in India. Prominent among those who wrote a letter in support of Fai to the US District Judge seeking leniency were Rajmohan Gandhi, Ved Bhasin, Karen Parker, Zaffer A Shah, Zahid G Muhammad and Hamida Bano. 

According to an overview of the KAC conference sent to the media after the 2009 event by Fai, Ved Bhasin was quoted as advocating for Kashmir as an independent state in South Asia. 

"The only solution is an independent state in South Asia. The status quo is not a solution, the division of the State is not a solution," reported Kashmir Images of 22 July, 2011 quoting Ved Bhasin. Prof. Hamida Bano was among Fai’s beneficiaries but inclusion of Jatinder Bakhshi, rather a non-descript Kashmir Pandit migrant entity remained a mystery. 

The Telegraph of 21 July reported that several Indian journalists and activists had also accepted the invitation from the group to take part in seminars in the US, which involved business class travel and "some luxury". Sources said journalists such as Kuldip Nayar, Dileep Padgaonkar, Harinder Baweja, Ved Bhasin, Rajmohan Gandhi and activists Rita Manchanda and Gautam Navlakha and politician Subramanian Swamy had attended some of these seminars. Bharat Bhushan, who writes on India-Pakistan relations and is a former journalist with The Telegraph, declined to deny or confirm if he participated in any event organized by the group. 

Siddharth Varadarajan, National Bureau Chief of The Hindu, said Fai invited him to attend a seminar in 2009. "But I declined," Varadarajan said. What aroused Varadarajan’s suspicion was Fai having listed India’s envoy to Washington Meera Shankar as one of the speakers at the event. "I checked with my sources on how come she was attending? They told me she wasn’t," Varadarajan said. 

Sources said the SIT would go into details the hawala funds sent by Fai through various channels including banking and businessmen to various persons in Jammu and Kashmir through Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries and the United States.

Fai had funded various separatists, individuals, NGOs etc at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with whose officers he was in regular touch.

A number of so-called intellectuals could be exposed during course of investigations by the SIT.

Sources said in addition to unraveling the nexus of Fai’s agents in Jammu and Kashmir, the SIT has also been asked to go into details of cases registered against the Kashmiri separatist including a Public Safety Act (PSA) warrant pending against him.

The PSA warrant had been issued against Fai in 1980 by the then Deputy Commissioner, Badgam for his involvement in anti-national activities. However, Fai had deserted Kashmir after issuance of PSA warrant against him in 1980 and settled in Saudi Arabia for sometime before finally settling in the United States, where he had floated Kashmir American Council (KAC).

Fai was recently sentenced to two years imprisonment by a Virginia court in the United States.

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