Rat­tled Hur­riyat Lead­ers Seek Ace Lawyers in Delhi

Fear strong cases against those held re­cently in Kash­mir in a ter­ror fund­ing case

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Va­sudha.Venu­gopal @times­group.com

New Delhi: Un­til re­cently a se­ri­ously desta­bil­is­ing fac­tor for the Cen­tre’s Kash­mir pol­icy, Hur­riyat lead­ers are now se­ri­ously wor­ried about find­ing high qual­ity le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who did not want to be iden­ti­fied told ET that Hur­riyat lead­ers have ap­proached some lawyers who they think are “sym­pa­thetic” to the cause of “Kash­miri sep­a­ratism” to rep­re­sent those ar­rested re­cently in a ter­ror fund­ing case.

On July 24, the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) ar­rested seven per­sons from Sri­na­gar and Delhi.

Those ar­rested in­clude Altaf Ah­mad Shah, Fun­toosh Gee­lani, Ayaz Ak­bar Khandey, Raja Mehra­jud­din Kal­wal, Peer Sai­ful­lah, Aftab Hi­lali Shah (alias Shahid-ul-Is­lam), Nay­eem Khan and Fa­rooq Ah­mad Dar (alias Bitta Karate).

Dar was ar­rested in Delhi and the oth­ers were ar­rested from Sri­na­gar and brought to Delhi. The ac­cused were pro­duced be­fore a spe­cial judge, Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency, in the cap­i­tal’s Pa­tiala House court. Of­fi­cials said the Hur­riyat lead­er­ship was “rat­tled” and that seek­ing big name lawyers was a sign of their “aware­ness” that the “case against them was strong”.

ET could not in­de­pen­dently ver­ify names of lawyers who may have been ap­proached by Hur­riyat lead­ers and is, there­fore, not pub­lish­ing their names.

Post th­ese ar­rests and suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions against ter­ror­ists in Kash­mir, there’s “wide­spread panic” in “sep­a­ratist and ter­ror cir­cles”, of­fi­cials said.

They also said In­tel­li­gence ser­vices have “es­tab­lished that both the United Ji­had Coun­cil and the Lashkar-e-Taiba lead­er­ship” have “send sol­i­dar­ity mes­sages” to Hur­riyat lead­ers, on July 27 and July 30, re­spec­tively.

More ar­rests are ex­pected over the next 10 days, th­ese of­fi­cials said. In­tel­li­gence ser­vices have also told the Cen­tre that there’s “se­ri­ous dis­il­lu­sion­ment” in a sec­tion of the Mir­waiz Umar Fa­rooq fac­tion of the Hur­riyat group over “ag­gres­sive ap­proach” of other sep­a­ratists.

The Mir­waiz fac­tion “rues the missed op­por­tu­nity of con­struc­tive talks with the Cen­tre”, of­fi­cials said. Union Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh had, in 2016, had said the Cen­tre was open to di­a­logue.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials closely mon­i­tor­ing Kash­mir say 118 ter­ror­ists have been killed in the last five months and that the “suc­cess of se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions” and the “se­ri­ous charges” in the ter­ror fund­ing case have “con­sid­er­ably weak­ened groups fo­ment­ing vi­o­lence”.

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