NEW DELHI – Former MLA and second runner-up in parliamentary elections from Baramulla seat Engineer Rashid was charge sheeted along with JKLF chief Yasin Malik and four other Kashmiri separatists, including a woman activist accused Asiya Andrabi, for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the central government by carrying out “terrorist and secessionist” activities.
The charge sheet, which according to PTI is running into 3,000 pages, claimed that Pakistan High Commission supported the separatists through transfer of funds via financial conduits to create unrest in the Kashmir valley.
The case, filed at the behest of government of India, relates to alleged funding in 2017 in the valley and involves Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.
Separatists Shabir Shah and Masarat Alam Bhat have also been named as accused in the supplementary charge sheet, NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor Sidharth Luthra said.
After Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved State’s Legislature, Er Rashid contested parliamentary elections from Baramulla and won 102168 votes in a closely contested affair and fell short by short margin of votes against National Conference’s Mohammad Akhbar Lone and Raja Aiyaz of Peoples Conference.
The charge sheet was filed before Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Syal, during in-camera proceedings.
The court has put up the matter for taking cognisance of the charge sheet on October 23.
The offences for which the accused were chargesheeted fall under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against government of India), 121A (conspiracy to wage war) and 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) stated later in a press release that during the investigation, searches were conducted at nine locations in J&K and 400 electronic devices along with 85 incriminating documents were seized.
It said the role of the Pakistan High Commission in supporting the separatist and other networks through transfer of funds via financial conduits and in providing directions to continue the unrest in the Kashmir valley has been clearly established during the investigation.
About 125 witnesses were examined during the probe, it said.
NIA said investigations revealed that the five accused have hatched conspiracy by collaborating with each other to form various protest calendars and action plan in order to launch violent agitation, ‘hartaals’, systematic ‘bandhs’ and large scale economic shut-down in order to cripple the administrative machinery and to create disaffection towards the administration.
The probe revealed that the Hurriyat leaders, terrorists and the stone-pelters carried out terrorist attacks and orchestrated violence, stone-pelting and other secessionist activities in the Valley, NIA said.
There was recovery of various SMSes, Chats, e-mails, WhatsApp and videos clearly indicating the nexus between the already charge-sheeted accused and the five accused, the agency said.
“In the videos they are seen, exhorting general public for illegal acts, sympathizing with the militants and seeking direct support from Pakistan. Various incriminating chats and e-mails have been recovered from the e-mail accounts of Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah wherein description of receipt of funds from Pakistan and various other countries have been revealed.
“It has also been found that Yasin Malik has been getting funds from foreign countries through hawala channels for causing unrest and insurgency in Kashmir,” it said.
According to the NIA, Shah had received Rs 10 lakh from hawala operator Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watal, a co-accused in the case.
Besides, the money was also sent to the banned outfit Dukhtaraan-e-Milat of which Andrabi was the chief, NIA said.
The agency had on June 4 arrested Shah, Andrabi (chief of banned outfit Dukhtaraan-e-Milat) and Bhat in connection to the case.
NIA had filed a charge sheet in January 2018 against Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and 10 Kashmiri separatists for allegedly funding “terror and secessionist activities” in the valley.
Besides Saeed and Salahuddin, the other 10 accused in the final report are – Hurriyat leader Syed Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah, Geelani’s personal assistant Bashir Ahmad Bhat, media advisor and strategist of the Hurriyat Conference Aftab Ahmad Shah, National Front chief Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (R) Farooq Ahmad Dar, media advisor of Hurriyat Conference (Geelani faction) Mohammad Akbar Khanday, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat official Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, hawala operator Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watal and two stone-pelters – Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat.
The NIA said the case was registered on May 30, 2017 and the first arrests made on July 24, 2017.
It had said the conspiracy was hatched with active support, connivance and funding from militant organisations based in Pakistan and its agencies to achieve their objective of secession of the Jammu and Kashmir by waging war against the Indian government.