Srinagar- The State Investigation Agency (SIA) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police carried out raids at eight places on Saturday in a case related to collection of funds by Maulvi Sarjan Barkati, the face of “anti-national” protests in 2016, and using the same for personal gains, officials said.
The SIA, a subsidiary of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, registered a case against Barkati earlier this year to probe the collection of funds as well as his “anti-national” speeches.
According to the officials, it is alleged that more than Rs 1.5 crore were generated through crowdfunding and from suspected militant sources, and utilised for personal benefits, profiteering and in furtherance of secessionist-militant campaigns.
Barkati and others are alleged to have made a huge amount of money by making emotional appeals to the public to support them for their day-to-day needs.
Under this garb, Barkati not only generated huge funds but prima facie, also laundered money coming from unidentified sources, suspected to have originated from militant outfits, for further use in sustaining the secessionist-militant campaigns, the officials said.
In 2016, Barkati, a resident of Zainpora in Shopian, became notorious for mobilising thousands of people onto streets for a violent agitation through his incendiary oratory.
It is alleged that Barkati used to openly invite and incite youngsters to take to violence and pull down the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir.
The SIA has so far identified 10 suspects whose involvement has surfaced in the initial investigation. The early morning raids spread over many districts of Kashmir are still underway.
With the seizures of electronic gadgets, incriminating material and other corroborative evidence, the SIA is hopeful that the searches would enable it to extract some vital leads, including on whether these funds had anything to do with militancy and Hurriyat finances.
Preliminary investigations have shown Barkati has diverted a substantial part of the funds for his personal benefits and purchased a piece of land worth Rs 45 lakh in Anantnag town in the name of his wife, which he subsequently sold for Rs 72 lakh, making a profit of Rs 27 lakh, and also built a palatial house using public money.
He has also purchased five kanals of land to establish a madrassa, which according to credible information is meant for making money and providing a platform to anti-national elements and also aimed at being a breeding ground for luring youngsters towards terrorism.
A large chunk of such ill-gotten money has allegedly been deposited in several FDRs in the name of Barkati’s family members.
Not only has the accused breached the public trust through emotional blackmailing by building a personal fortune with the funds donated to him by people for daily sustenance, he also camouflaged money coming from suspicious sources under the garb of crowdfunding for the furtherance of the secessionist-militant campaigns, the officials said.
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