JandK terror funding: NIA seizes Rs 36.5 cr in old notes, arrests nine in Delhi's Connaught Place

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J&K terror funding: NIA seizes Rs 36.5 cr in old notes, arrests nine in Delhi's Connaught Place
J&K terror funding: NIA seizes Rs 36.5 cr in old notes, arrests nine in Delhi's Connaught Place

New Delhi : The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday said it had seized nearly Rs 36.5 crore in demonetised currency and arrested nine persons here in its ongoing probe into the Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case.

Following inputs, an NIA team seized the currency on Monday on Jai Singh Road near Connaught Place -- a business and financial hub of Delhi situated not more than eight km from the counter-terror agency's headquarters.

"Seven gang members were initially apprehended while carrying 28 cartons filled with the demonetised notes in four luxury vehicles. Their other accomplices were apprehended later in the evening. We seized Rs 36,34,78,500 from their possession," NIA Spokesperson Alok Mittal told IANS.

He said after initial questioning at the NIA headquarters, the nine were arrested on Tuesday in the Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case. They will be produced in a Special NIA court on Wednesday.

Those held were Pradeep Chauhan, 47, Bhagwan Singh, 54, Vinod Shreedhar Shetty, 47, Shahnawaz Mir, 45, Deepak Toprani, 60, Majid Yousuf Sofi, 27, Ejajul Hassan, 38, Umar Mushtaq Dar, 27, and Jaswinder Singh, 53.

Three accused hail from Jammu and Kashmir, two from Delhi, two from Mumbai, and one each from Uttar Pradesh and Nagpur.

NIA investigators said they received inputs about persons/entities having links with separatists/terrorists and still in possession of a significant amount of demonetised currency, which they could not deposit or convert during the period earmarked by the government.

"Surveillance was mounted, which led to unearthing of a conspiracy wherein these persons were trying to convert the demonetised money into valid currency."

With the arrest of the nine persons the total number of arresting in the terror funding has now reached 19. 

The agency has so far arrested since June has arrested seven separatist leaders, one businessman, and two stone-pelters for receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting in Jammu and Kashmir.

On July 24, the NIA arrested seven persons -- Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah -- on charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against India.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir's merger with Pakistan. Islam is a close aide of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. WhileAKhandey is the spokesperson for the Geelani-led Hurriyat.

The agency also arrested businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in mid-August, who is accused of acting as a conduit for channelling funds for separatists and terror activities in the valley.

He was allegedly collecting funds from Pakistan and banned terrorist organisations and transferring the same to various Hurriyat leaders.

On September 5, two alleged stone-pelters --AJaved Ahmad Bhat of Kulgam and Kamran of Pulwama -- were arrested in connection with an ongoing probe into terror funding to stoke unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

A highly placed NIA source told IANS that the agency officials had apprehended two more persons from Ambala in Haryana and seized Rs 4.5 lakh in demonetised currency.

The source said the two were apprehended from Brara in Ambala district on Tuesday. The agency is investigating if they are linked to the nine persons arrested in the terror funding case.

The development came amid opposition claims that the November 8, 2016, decision to spike 1,000 and 500 rupee notes (almost 86 per cent of the currency in circulation then) had made no significant impact on curbing terrorism and its financing from across the border.