Srinagar, Feb 26: Taking the Joint Hurriyat leadership by surprise, various teams of National Investigating Agency (NIA) conducted a series of raids at the residences of top separatist leaders in Srinagar and seized electronic gadgets, mobile phones and other documents from their residences.
Sources said that raids were conducted at the residence of Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s son, Nayeem Geelani, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Zafar Akbar Bhat and Masarat Alam Bhat.
Local police and CRPF personnel cordoned off the areas before NIA sleuths started the searches at several places in Srinagar. Malik has been in detention since Friday while Shabir Shah is in Delhi’s Tihar jail since July 2017.
Sources said that the NIA team reached at the residence of Mirwaiz Umar at 8:30 am. “They seized the documents, laptop, mobile phones and also some documents from the office of Mirwaiz,” sources said.
Police had made deployment of forces in Nowhatta and other sensitive parts of downtown to prevent any possible protests against the raids.
At the residence of JKLF chief, the NIA sleuths, searches his room, books, and took away his phone and a laptop. Soon after the raid at Malik’s house ended, scores of youth took to streets and resorted to stone pelting with shopkeepers downing their shutters as a mark of protest against the raids.
At the residence of Sehrai, sources said that the NIA men took away a laptop, passbook of his son, Junaid Sehrai and some documents.
A spokesperson of NIA said its teams carried out searches at seven locations in Srinagar in connection with investigation of 2017 J&K Funding case.
“These included premises belonging to top separatist leaders namely Yasin Malik, Chairman JKLF, Shabir Shah, President JKDFP, Mirwaiz Umar
Farooq, Chairman Awami Action Committee, Mohammad Ashraf Khan Chairman Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Masarat Alam, General Secretary APHC, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Chairman JKSM and Naseem Geelani, son of Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani. NIA teams were accompanied by CRPF and Jammu & Kashmir
Police personnel,” the spokesperson said.
During the searches, as per the NIA spokesperson, the teams recovered “incriminating documents including property papers, financial transactions receipts and bank account details”. “Electronic devices including laptops, e-tablets, mobile phones, pen drives, communication system and DVRs were also seized during the searches,” it said.
The spokesperson claimed that letter heads of different militant organisations as well as documents relating to recommendations for visa for admission in Pakistan Educational Institutions were found.
“A high tech internet communication set up was also recovered from the residence of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq,” it said.
The NIA officials were accompanied by local police and CRPF personnel as searches were carried out. Tuesday’s raids came less than a week after the government withdrew the security cover of separatist leaders in Kashmir following the Pulwama attack
on February 14 in which 49 CRPF troopers were killed after a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus. Over the weekend, the Centre also airlifted 100 companies of paramilitary forces for deployment in Kashmir amid a crackdown on separatists and militants.