Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah arrested for terror funding

New Delhi : The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Shabir Shah – one of the founders of Kashmiri separatism – as part of the government’s crack-down on separatists for allegedly receiving money from Pakistan to finance terror activities in the Kashmir Valley.

Shah, who was taken into custody on money laundering charges on Tuesday evening from his residence in upscale Sanat Nagar neighbourhood in Srinagar, was brought on Wednesday afternoon to Delhi where a court allowed the Enforcement Directorate to question him for seven days in its custody.

Police sources in Srinagar said ED officials executed a non-bailable warrant issued against Shah by a Delhi court.

The arrest followed disclosures by hawala dealer Muhammad Aslam Wani that he had passed on hawala money worth Rs 2.25 crore to Shah, officials said.

Shah, 64, the founding chairman of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), was earlier associated with the Jammu and Kashmir People’s League — a political outfit that seeks Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.

He broke ranks with the League in the late 1990s to form the Democratic Freedom Party that fights for right to self-determination.

Shah’s DFP is also part of separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Shabir Shah is considered one of the masterminds of anti-India Kashmir separatist war and has spent much of his life behind the bars even before militancy erupted in the state in the late 1980s.

He went underground in 1988 and 1989 and was accused of giving directions to the Kashmir secessionist movement before he was arrested in August 1989. He was also accused of stoking the 2008 Amarnath land agitation and the 2010 Kashmir unrest.

Over the past 29 years of separatist campaign in Jammu and Kashmir, Shah has often been accused of accumulating huge wealth through various sources, including the hawala channels.

The fresh allegations relate to an August 2005 case wherein the Delhi Police Special Cell had arrested Wani, an alleged hawala dealer.

Wani has admitted that he had given Rs 2.25 crore to Shah. The ED had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against both.

The arrest is part of the wider crackdown against Kashmiri separatists.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also arrested seven other leaders. They have been remanded in NIA custody for 10 days for interrogation over allegations that they got funds from Pakistan to sponsor terrorist activities in the Kashmir Valley.

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Free Press Journal