Terror funding: ED seizes Rs 6.2 cr assets of J&K trader

New Delhi: Over three months after the Centre abrogated Article 370 in J&K, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), here on Tuesday, said it had seized Rs 6.20 crore assets of Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, a prominent Kashmiri businessman, in connection with a terror-funding probe involving Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Jammat-Ud-Dawa terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed.

This is the second physical possession of properties in connection with the terror funding case by the ED in J&K in the last one week. The ED has earlier attached Rs 8.94 crore Watali and his family members’ properties in the case.

These properties were in the form of land parcels in the Budgam district of J&K, the central financial probe agency said in a statement.

The attachment of these had been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority (PMLA), it added.

The ED launched a money laundering probe based on a charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Hafiz Sayeed and others under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

According to the NIA charge-sheet, Watali was involved in raising funds and acting as financial conduit for Hurriyat leaders.

“He was remitting funds to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and other secessionists, who instigated people, mainly the youth, to observe strikes and resort to violence especially stone-pelting on the security forces at encounter sites,” it said.

The ED said during the probe it was revealed that Naval Kishore Kapoor, who was arrested by the NIA in July 2018, was instrumental in mobilising funds from unknown sources in Dubai and remitted them to Watali and his company, Trison Farms and Construction.

“The transactions were carried out in the guise of a lease agreement between Trison Farms and Construction and Kapoor, which was found to be a legal facade to bring funds from unknown sources in Dubai to India,” it said.

The ED has earlier attached Rs 8.94 crore properties of Watali and his family members.

Along with other nine accused in the case, Watali is in the judicial custody at the Tihar Jail in Delhi.

According to earlier ED statements, the Hurriyat leaders received funds from Pakistan through conduits and also from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

“It was substantiated by an incriminating document seized from the house of Ghulam Mohammad Bhatt, who worked as cashier-cum-accountant with Watali. It indicates that Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Sayeed, Pakistan’s ISI and the Pakistan High Commission, as also from a source based in Dubai,” an earlier ED statement said.