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NIA questions Mirwaiz; asked to appear again tomorrow; Geelani’s son asked to join probe

NEW DELHI

The NIA Monday questioned Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq for nearly eight hours in connection with a case related to funding of militant groups and separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here.

He was asked to appear before the agency again Tuesday, the officials said, adding Naseem Geelani, son of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, was also summoned on Tuesday.

After avoiding the first two summons, the Mirwaiz finally appeared before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after he was assured of being provided security upon his arrival in the national capital.

The Mirwaiz was accompanied by other separatist leaders, including Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Maulana Abbas Ansari.

During the questioning, the Mirwaiz was asked several questions related to the funding of his party Awami Action Committee as well as Hurriyat Conference, the officials said, adding that the replies were not satisfactory.

He had been asked to appear before the NIA on March 11 and March 18 but expressed his inability to join the investigation in the national capital, saying he feared for his security in view of “conditions of hostility”.

In its third summons issued last week, the NIA promised him security.

The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of militant activities, pelting of stones on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments.

The case names Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused. It also names organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat.

Ahead of his appearance before the NIA, the Hurriyat Conference chairman tweeted, “In Delhi today with my colleagues for the NIA summon, efforts to malign leadership for its political stand wont work. Inspite of harassment Hurriyat will continue to seek peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. Urge people back home to stay calm and peaceful.”

On Sunday night, the Hurriyat held an executive meeting and strongly condemned the move to summon the Mirwaiz. It claimed its chairman was “being deliberately harassed and there was an effort to criminalise leadership for their political stand”.

It said the Hurriyat is a coalition of political parties striving for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue and to associate it with anything to do with militancy is ridiculous and a deliberate victimisation for their political ideology.

“It’s unfortunate that while they have always maintained that Kashmir is a political issue that needs resolution peacefully and humanely and always worked towards that end… yet rulers of the day are resorting to such tactics to harass and intimidate them under the garb of legality,” it said.

The Mirwaiz or any member of Hurriyat Conference has nothing to do with the “so called funding case and it is sheer vindictiveness on the part of authorities”, it said.

The NIA had on February 26 carried out searches at premises of several leaders, including the Mirwaiz.

The probe agency 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.

The Mirwaiz had informed the NIA that he was not acquainted with the subject matter of the FIR referred to in its notice and also added that the notice appears to have been issued on the basis of “fallacious assumptions and misinformation solely aimed at maligning” him.

About PTI

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India. Collectively, they put out more than 2,000 stories and 200 photographs a day to feed the expansive appetite of the diverse subscribers, who include the mainstream media, the specialised presses, research groups, companies, and government and non-governmental organisations.

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