Separatists recommendations for J&K students highlighted their role in stirs against forces: NIA

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has accessed various recommendation letters by separatists for Pakistani visas for students from Jammu and Kashmir whereby their contributions in the stir against the security forces were highlighted, officials have said.

The NIA had earlier red flagged admissions to medical institutions in Pakistan on the recommendations of separatists in Jammu and Kashmir and termed them as an “alternative mechanism” for funding of terror groups.

In 2017, the NIA had registered a case to probe the terror funding and arrested over a dozen people in this connection including Altaf Ahmad Shah alias ”Fantoosh”, son-in-law of pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who last week disassociated himself from politics.

The successor of 90-year-old Geelani in Pakistan”s chapter of Hurriyat Conference had alleged that the rival faction of the outfit was selling seats to professional courses. Following the NIA probe in the cases, no names were recommended for admissions by the separatist groups from Kashmir last year.

For many years, more than 100 students were being annually sent from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan for higher studies especially MBBS and the NIA has unearthed the nexus between students, Pakistan High Commission officials and separatists in the Valley, the officials said.

They said the separatist leaders used to charge money which was meant for spreading terror and separatist activities in the Kashmir valley after the NIA crackdown on all non-banking channels including ”hawala”.

In its chargesheet filed in 2018, the NIA said that during the course of its probe, it was found that students who were proceeding to Pakistan on student visas were either relatives of ex-terrorists or relatives of families of active militants who had indulged in various anti-national activities and had migrated to Pakistan or they were known to Hurriyat leaders.

Further in its probe, the NIA seized recommendation letters from separatists in which links to social media showed the prospective students” participation in anti-national activities, the officials said.

The admissions of students became an “alternative mechanism” for funding of terror groups in the Valley, a senior official said.

The official, referring to the NIA chargesheet, said the agency had red flagged the admission schemes offered by Pakistan as there was a nexus wherein the terrorists, the Hurriyat and the Pakistan establishment were “the three vertices and they are ostensibly patronising the Kashmir students in order to prepare a generation of doctors and technocrats in Kashmir who will have leanings towards Pakistan”.

Besides a host of separatists, the NIA had arrested noted businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali in connection with the case. All of them have been behind bars for over two years now and have failed in securing bail.

Watali had secured bail from the Delhi High Court but the same was reversed by the Supreme Court in 2019.