Rattled Hurriyat Leaders Seek Ace Lawyers in Delhi
Fear strong cases against those held recently in Kashmir in a terror funding case
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”.