For decades since the insurgency began in India’s Jammu and Kashmir, everyone knew cash was flowing in from Pakistan to fund terror.
But neither the state nor the federal government acted to strike at its root as they did not want to lose minority votes. Finally, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government acted on Saturday as it completed three years in power.
A move long overdue to end violence in Kashmir Valley by choking terror funding should have been widely welcomed. Instead, individuals, groups and even some mainstream political parties condemned the raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Hurriyet leaders, the key players behind terror funding in Kashmir.
Their anger and frustration shows they sympathize with Hurriyet separatists or want to oppose every action taken by the federal government on Kashmir.
But NIA did their homework before the raids and were sure about their targets – individuals who pose a threat to national security. They kept the operation secret even from state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed.
During simultaneous raids in more than 30 locations in Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana over the weekend, NIA seized huge amounts of cash, including currencies from Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia. They also recovered incriminating documents that established the links between Hurriyet leaders with Pakistani terror funder and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and Kashmir’s young stone-pelters and arsonists.
The first information report filed by state police mentions Hafiz Saeed and Hurriyet Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani as the first and the third accused respectively.
Rattled by the weekend raids, separatist leaders planned a joint resistance meeting and press conference on Monday. But the state police foiled it by sealing the house of Geelani where the meeting was to be held. Hurriyat co-chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest while Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s chief Muhammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody in Srinagar.
NIA also filed a case of conspiracy against the three for allegedly receiving money from Hafiz Saeed. The leaders had warned of street protests against NIA raids which they described as an attempt to discredit them and their movement to “liberate” Kashmir.
Responding to NIA raids, Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said they show the federal government is mishandling the situation in Kashmir.
Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, who views Hurriyet as stakeholders in Kashmir, said the cash recovered during the raids was meagre.
However, those who back NIA’s action argue that if the rich and famous across India face income tax raids and politicians and businessmen caught in financial scandals are put behind bars, what is wrong if Kashmiri leaders who pose a threat to national security are jailed?
As the raids continue, NIA says separatists like Hurriyet leaders will be treated as terrorists.
The “calendar” distributed by Hurriyet among jobless youth instructs them on the days they should pelt stones at security forces, stage protest rallies on streets and force shutdown in Kashmir Valley.
Hurriyet leaders have been using youth as cannon fodder to push their narrow agenda. NIA’s ongoing raids on them will be a game-changer.