TERROR FINANCING CASE: NIA issues fresh summons to Mirwaiz for questioning in Delhi


SRINAGAR, Mar 14: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Thursday issued fresh summons to moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq to appear for questioning at the probe agency headquarters in connection with a terror financing case, officials said.
According to the notice, the Mirwaiz has been asked to appear at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters in New Delhi on March 18, the agency officials said.
The NIA had on February 26 carried out searches at premises of separatist leaders, including the Mirwaiz, in connection with the case related to financing of terrorist and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir.
The NIA team, accompanied by police and CRPF personnel, searched residences of some of the separatist leaders, including the Mirwaiz, Naseem Geelani and Ashraf Sehrai, the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
The houses of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yaseen Malik, Shabir Shah, Zaffar Bhat and Masarat Alam were also raided.
Barring the Mirwaiz and Sehrai, all other leaders were jailed for some time.
The NIA had questioned two maternal uncles of the Mirwaiz -- Maulvi Manzoor and Maulvi Shafat -- and his close aides last year. Both Manzoor and Shafat are retired senior government officers.
He had been asked to appear before the NIA on March 11 but the Mirwaiz had expressed his inability to join the investigation in the national capital fearing for his security in view of "conditions of hostility".
"Under the prevailing conditions of hostility wherein there is a threat to the personal safety of my client, it becomes unwise for my client to travel to Delhi," counsel for the Mirwaiz, Aijaz Ahmad Dhar, had said in a letter to the NIA.
If the NIA wants to question the Mirwaiz, it can do so in Srinagar and he is willing to cooperate as "he has nothing to hide", the letter had said.
The lawyer had said his client was not acquainted with the subject matter of the FIR referred to in the NIA's notice and added that the notice to the separatist leader appears to have been issued on the basis of "fallacious assumptions and misinformation solely aimed at maligning the Mirwaiz".
On his client's stand on the Kashmir issue, the lawyer said it has always been clear.
"He has always stated that the Kashmir issue is a political and human issue which needs political resolution either through implementation of UN resolutions or through dialogue amongst the three stakeholders -- India, Pakistan and people of Jammu and Kashmir," the counsel of the Mirwaiz said
The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, pelting of stones on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments.
The case names Hafeez Saeed, Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the front for banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused, besides organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference factions led by Geelani and the Mirwaiz, Hizbul Mujahideen and Dukhtaran-e-Millat.
However, Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was willing to cooperate with any investigation, but accusing him of terror funding was "ridiculous and political vendetta", its former chairman and executive member Abdul Gani Bhat said Wednesday.
The Hurriyat Wednesday held an emergency meeting at party headquarters in Rajbagh here where it discussed the present political scenario, especially the summoning of its chairman to Delhi by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bhat, on the summoning of Mirwaiz by the NIA, said a "hostile environment" was being "wilfully generated to cause harassment".
"Mirwaiz has made it absolutely clear that he is willing to cooperate with any investigation but what is upsetting is that a hostile environment is being wilfully generated to cause harassment," he said.
The Hurriyat leader said Mirwaiz represents an office which is "so sacred" that interference in any form or at any level with his position "is extremely likely to inflict a wound deep into the collective political consciousness of Kashmir".
"Let there be no mistake about it that Hurriyat as a forum is democratic in essence and does not therefore believe in violence in any form or manifestation let alone so called terror-funding," he said.
Bhat said Mirwaiz himself was a victim of violence and as a matter of fact, the forum has all along been actively supporting efforts aimed at building abiding relations between India and Pakistan "which is where our position to resolve the dispute through talks needs to be appreciated".
"To accuse him of having anything to do with so called terror funding is ridiculous and nothing more than political vendetta," the former Hurriyat chairman said.
Batting for talks to resolve issues between India and Pakistan, Bhat said the people in both the countries can hardly afford to live with tension, acrimony and ill-will.
"India and Pakistan as nuclear powers can hardly exhibit laxity towards tomorrow. We have to live together and live peacefully to ensure prosperity and development. What constitutes an obstacle will have to be addressed. Talks are the call of times. Let's take the call and move ahead towards a brighter future and a better region," the separatist leader said.

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