Bengaluru: The various probes by the National Investigation Agency in the Valley have revealed the roles of the personalities from the mainstream in both terror and terror funding cases.

The NIA, it may be recalled, had recently arrested mainstream politician Rashid Engineer in a terror funding case. Now the role of a lawyer, Irfan Shafi Mir has cropped up in a terror related case, the NIA says.

The case against Irfan Shafi Mir:

The National Investigation Agency that has been looking into the conspiracy following the arrest of Davinder Singh learnt about the role of Mir, a lawyer. Mir was arrested along with Singh and two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, Naveed Babu and Rafi Ahmed.

Mir, who got away all these years because he is a lawyer, is understood to have visited Pakistan five times, during which he had held meetings with the top Hizbul leadership, NIA sources told MyNation.
Mir’s association with the Hizbul Mujahideen goes a long way. His father Shafi Mir was a commander with the Hizbul. Mir told the NIA that his father was killed by a terrorist of the outfit. However, he continued to maintain good relations with the terror group, he also said.

NIA officials say that Mir was the main link between Singh and Naveed Babu. He was overseeing an operation that involved helping Naveed and Ahmed escape and having them exfiltrated to Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the NIA has also learnt. Further, Mir was also in touch with several other top terrorists in the Valley. The NIA suspects that Mir, being a lawyer, never came under the scanner and he used this to help terrorists escape and also facilitate deals for them.

The case against Rashid Engineer:

Another big catch for the NIA was Rashid Engineer. The former Jammu and Kashmir MLA was arrested by the agency for his link with Naveed Babu. Engineer is accused of helping terrorists establish bases in the Valley and also helping them move funds.

During the interrogation of Naveed, he claimed that he was in constant touch with Engineer. We have several rounds of discussions in order to establish a base for the Hizbul Mujahideen in North Kashmir, Naveed claimed. 

Engineer is also being probed in the terror funding case. It was found that he was the main man for businessman, Zahoor Watali, who brought in the funds from Pakistan. Watali was arrested after it was found that he brought in funds and moved them into the coffers of politicians, separatists and also terrorists.

Prior to his arrest, Engineer was questioned several times by the NIA. However, the NIA had to arrest him as he was not giving the agency a clear picture about his activities. NIA sources add that they have managed to establish a very clear link in the terror funding between Engineer and the terrorists.

The case against Zahoor Watali:

Watali was arrested by the NIA in 2017. He is a businessman and used this as a cover to carry out terror funding. Watali would receive the money from Pakistan and Engineer would park the same in the Joint Effort Trust. 

The money from this trust would be channelised to various outfits. The primary agenda was to pay separatists, mainstream politicians in order to keep the Valley on the boil. 

The Enforcement Directorate’s probe against Watali led to his properties being attached. Watali was the main person in the terror funding case, who used his hawala networks to bring in the money from Pakistan. Money was also being routed into India from Dubai, the ED learnt. He had floated several shell companies to bring in the foreign remittances. The ED has found the money trail and learnt that a great deal of money was spent on the stone pelters, who have for long kept the Valley on the boil. 

A free hand for the NIA:

NIA officials said that these cases are not new. They have been going on for long, but remained untouched. When the Narendra Modi government came to power, it was decided that the only way to bring sanity in the Valley is to cut off the fund flow. 

The government gave the NIA a free hand to probe the case. The NIA found that Pakistan had been using these mainstream personalities as a perfect cover to fund terror in the Valley. All these persons were influential and managed to get away for several years. They were backed by mainstream politicians to the hilt as a result of which no probe was undertaken against them. 

The NIA also learnt that these persons had misused the cross border LoC trade to pump in the money. For all these years, such activities went ahead unabated as a result of which there was free flow of funds into the Valley. With the NIA and ED tightening the noose, the terror funding has come down to almost nil in the Valley. With each passing day, new revelations are cropping up and we are sure that many more big names would roll out as the probe progresses, the NIA official also said.