Terror-funding case: Court denies bail to Kashmiri businessman

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A Delhi court today denied bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, under arrest for his alleged role in a terror-funding case also involving Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

District Judge Poonam A Bamba said the case was not ripe for grant of bail.

On June 5, the court had reserved Watali’s bail application after hearing the arguments on his behalf as well as from the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Watali was arrested on August 17 last year by the NIA. He is currently in judicial custody.

Opposing the bail plea, the NIA contended that the source of funds received by the accused was not satisfactorily explained by him. If released on bail, he might hamper the probe and flee from justice, it said.

In his application moved by advocate Shariq Reyaz, Watali said no offence under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was made out against him in the charge sheet and that he had already spent nine months in jail.

His counsel said the probe in the case was already concluded and the charge sheet filed.

Watali, Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and others have been accused by the NIA of “conspiring to wage war against the government” and fomenting trouble in the Kashmir Valley.

In its charge sheet, the NIA has alleged that officials of the Pakistan High Commission here were passing on money to separatists in Jammu and Kashmir through Watali.

The separatist leaders have been accused of taking a cut of the money.

Saeed has been accused of using Watali’s services for passing on the money to the separatists and some individuals, who were actively indulging in stone-pelting in the Valley.

The NIA has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, besides 10 others, with criminal conspiracy, sedition and provisions of the UAPA.

Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has named hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh and Bashir Ahmad Bhat in the charge sheet.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency in the terror-funding case.

All the accused are currently in judicial custody.

Two of the accused — freelance photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat — both accused of stone-pelting, were earlier granted bail by the court.

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