New Delhi, Mar 28:

Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali moves Delhi High Court against charges framed by the trial court against him in a militant financing case being investigated by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

He was arrested by the NIA in 2017 under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a case pertaining to the militant and secessionist activities that disturbed the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Last year in May, the NIA Court (Trial Court) had framed charges against Watali and others under various sections of IPC and UAPA.

The court had formally framed the charges against Kashmiri separatist leaders including Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, Md Yusuf Shah, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Md Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, and Naval Kishore Kapoor.

Separatist leader Mohammad Yasin Malik had also pleaded guilty to all the charges, including those under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), before the NIA court in the same case. Later he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The chargesheet was also filed against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who have been declared proclaimed offenders (PO) in the case, by the NIA Court.

The Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh on Tuesday sought a response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the matter and listed it for hearing on May 3, 2023.

According to the NIA, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali alongwith others were the fund-raisers and financial conduits. Advocate Shariq Reyaz appeared for the Watali in the Delhi High Court.

According to the NIA chargesheet, the investigation revealed that the secessionists were mobilizing funds from all possible sources to fuel unrest and support the ongoing secessionist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The secessionists were getting funds from Pakistan-based militant organizations and local donations.

During the investigation, a document was seized from the house of Ghulam Mohd Bhatt which showed that Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed (Head of Jamat-ud-Dawa) and was remitting the same to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone pelters of J&K, said the NIA.–(ANI)

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