By Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 7: In a major decision aimed at exposing separatists, individuals, NGOs and other organisations supporting United States based Kashmir separatist Sayyid Ghulam Nabi alias Fai, a resident of Soibugh, Badgam, the State Government today constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to investigate all pending cases against Fai and unearth identity of persons, who had received hawala money from different channels at the behest of separatist leader.
Uttam Chand, an IPS officer, presently posted as SSP Badgam, would head the SIT, official sources said, adding that other members to the SIT would be nominated soon. The Government has directed the SIT to start its task soon to unravel the entire nexus of Fai operating in Jammu and Kashmir and hawala funds received by various individuals including separatists, journalists, intellectuals, NGOs etc from the US based separatist leader.
The SIT would submit its report in the minimum possible time.
Sources said a red corner notice could be issued against Fai as police was in possession of enough material against him to prove his involvement in fanning terrorism and using various channels to fund several individuals and organisations with hawala money.
They added the evidence against the Kashmiri separatist leader would be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs, which could pursue the case of his extradition to India after he served two years imprisonment awarded to him by a Virginia Court in the United States recently.
Sources said the Badgam SSP had been made head of the SIT as Fai was a native of village Soibugh in Badgam district and a Public Safety Act (PSA) warrant issued against him by the then District Magistrate in Badgam in 1980 for his involvement in anti-national activities was still pending against him in police records. After the issuance of PSA warrant, Fai had fled the Kashmir valley and reached Saudi Arabia before finally settling in the United States where he had floated Kashmir American Council (KAC), which was brazenly back by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Fai had used the ISI funds to sponsor various NGOs, Kashmiri separatist leaders, journalists and other individuals and organisations to espouse the cause of Pakistan sponsored militancy in the Valley. As reported, hawala funds running into several crores had been routed through different channels by Fai for his supporters in Jammu and Kashmir and other States to carry out anti-India campaign, allege fake human rights violations to defame security forces and propagate the cause of Pakistan over Kashmir.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters today, Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda said: “”the cases against Fai will be carried forward and investigated to reach to their logical conclusion”.
“The investigation will include issuance of red corner notices and other steps which are required to be taken in this regard”, he said.
On whether the SIT would deal with the issue of Fai and his activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the DGP said, “(it is meant for) Fai and other associates, who will figure during the course of scrutiny of records of various international activities which have taken place”.
“We have to sum up these operatives who are connected in the situation in J&K. We have to carry forward cases of these people”, he said, adding “these people have figured prominently over the years in the cases whether it is Hafiz Saeed, Syed Sallahuddin and Ghulam Nabi Fai and others”.
“We have also found that there are certain activities of theirs in the past which required to be further probed into– including Fai’s”, Mr Khoda said.
Asked if the Government will take action against those people in the State, who wrote in support of Fai to the US Court, the DGP said, “We have certain records available which indicated his (Fai’s) anti-national activities in the past before he disappeared from here in the early 80s”.
He said, “during the course of investigation, SIT will find out whatever action is to be taken under laws that will be taken– we cannot pre-decide these issues– as to who has what role.
“We have to see who is culpable and who is not culpable– all this is based on the evidence which comes forward– which comes to notice during the investigation– scrutiny of records and also understanding the legal implications of those actions,” Mr Khoda said, adding, “I will not bind them (SIT) with any sorts of any do’s and don’ts– let us see how it proceeds”.
Meanwhile, knowledgeable sources revealed that Fai had told FBI agents in March 2007 that he had never met anyone who identified himself as being affiliated with the ISI. But confronted by the prosecution counsel with irrefutable evidence during his prosecution, Fai confessed having met with at least 4 ISI handlers and talked to them 4000 times during 2008. Two ISI officials, who had been in regular touch with Fai, have already been identified as Sohail Mehmood alias S Mir and Tauqeer Mehmood Bhat.
Fai had also claimed that he had not been receiving funding from Pakistan nor was he pushing Pakistan’s Kashmir cause in political, intellectual and academic circles in the Untied States. But Centre for Research Politics, a US-based centre has interviewed Congressman Dan Burton, who was perhaps the first US Congressman to fall in the net of Fai. Pakistani English daily Dawn of February 10, 2012 quoted a columnist as saying: “in July 2011, Burton was revealed by an FBI investigation to have received tainted election funds ultimately traced to the military intelligence services of Pakistan, apparently as a quid pro quo for “supporting to Pakistan’s position on Kashmir”.
These funds were routed via Fai headed KAC. Subsequently, Burton’s office donated the funds to charity. Burton had long been portrayed as a “good friend of Pakistan” and, over the course of many years, regularly issued pro-Pakistan and anti-India statements, both of which ceased following the revelations regarding the funds from Pakistan.
FBI sources have made more revelations of American personalities receiving Fai’s largesse. He gave $ 250 a piece to former Vice President Al Gore, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and President Barak Obama during Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, $ 500 a piece to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).
He gave $1,000 to the then -Sen. Bob Kasten (R-Wisc.) and $ 2,000 a piece to Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Joe Pitts (R-Penn.). Fai has also given $ 9,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $ 250 to both the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
A press release of East Virginia Attorney’s office of March 30, 2011 stated that Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to Pakistani Government officials for approval. For instance, in 2009, he sent the ISI a document entitled “Plan of Action of KAC / Kashmir Centre, Washington, D.C., for the Fiscal Year 2010,” which itemized KAC’s 2010 budget request of $ 658,000 and listed Fai’s plans to secure US Congressional support for US action in support of Kashmiri self-determination.
The Bloomberg Business Week of March 30, 2011, reported prosecutors saying in a court filing that a search of Fai’s home, office and a storage facility turned up documents detailing the council’s Washington strategies, including budget requirements for contributions to members of Congress and trips to Kashmir for lawmakers, money for opinion pieces distributed to the media, and money for seminars and conferences.
One document found in the course of search, called for $ 100,000 for contributions to members of Congress in 2009, prosecutors said. Fai, who admitted the conspiracy took place from 1990 until July 18, 2011, said he submitted annual budget requests of about $ 500,000 to $ 700,000 to officials of the Government of Pakistan, including the ISI. Seminars/conferences and travel and hospitality and gratification to the participants of seminars/symposia/conferences were undertaken by KAC with all frugality.
For example in connection with participants from India to the 11th annual conference of KAC, a national newspaper quoting from the footnotes of Attorney’s report had said, “Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was supported and controlled by the ISI. Fai invited Attiya Inayatullah to KAC conferences at the ISI’s direction. Gautam Navlakha was introduced to an ISI General for recruitment by Fai at the ISI’s behest”. Navlakha is a civil rights activist in India. Prominent among those who wrote a letter in support of Fai to the US District Judge seeking leniency were Rajmohan Gandhi, Ved Bhasin, Karen Parker, Zaffer A Shah, Zahid G Muhammad and Hamida Bano.
According to an overview of the KAC conference sent to the media after the 2009 event by Fai, Ved Bhasin was quoted as advocating for Kashmir as an independent state in South Asia.
“The only solution is an independent state in South Asia. The status quo is not a solution, the division of the State is not a solution,” reported Kashmir Images of 22 July, 2011 quoting Ved Bhasin. Prof. Hamida Bano was among Fai’s beneficiaries but inclusion of Jatinder Bakhshi, rather a non-descript Kashmir Pandit migrant entity remained a mystery.
One Zaheer Ahmad, a Pakistani American identified by FBI as Fai’s accomplice in securing funds from “straw donors”. They would be reimbursed later on from funds coming from ISI. Dependable sources said that Ahmad was in Pakistan at the time when Fai was arrested. After learning about Fai’s arrest Ahmad avoided returning to the US.
But then in November 2011, news came that he had died of a sudden heart attack. The news of his death was hushed up and nothing more was told about the circumstances in which he died. Sources alleged that it could have been the handiwork of ISI because Ahmad, an old time ISI agent was privy to a number of persons directly and indirectly involved in Faigate.
The Telegraph of 21 July reported that several Indian journalists and activists had also accepted the invitation from the group to take part in seminars in the US, which involved business class travel and “some luxury”. Sources said journalists such as Kuldip Nayar, Dileep Padgaonkar, Harinder Baweja, Ved Bhasin, Rajmohan Gandhi and activists Rita Manchanda and Gautam Navlakha and politician Subramanian Swamy had attended some of these seminars. Bharat Bhushan, who writes on India-Pakistan relations and is a former journalist with The Telegraph, declined to deny or confirm if he participated in any event organized by the group.
Siddharth Varadarajan, National Bureau Chief of The Hindu, said Fai invited him to attend a seminar in 2009. “But I declined,” Varadarajan said. What aroused Varadarajan’s suspicion was Fai having listed India’s envoy to Washington Meera Shankar as one of the speakers at the event. “I checked with my sources on how come she was attending? They told me she wasn’t,” Varadarajan said.
Veteran journalist Dileep Padgaonkar said he did not remember the year now but he “quite liked the meeting and did not suspect any hanky-panky”. The journalist said he felt there was a need to put forward the Indian point of view even if the outfit was pro-Pakistan. “We had no idea about Fai’s connections. I wouldn’t have gone had I known or had there been even the faintest of suspicions (about the source of the KAC funds)” he added.
In the news bulletin of April 7, Zee news said that the NGO Committee of ECOSO had rejected the application made by Fai in 1999 for grant of ECOSOC status. Indian member-delegate to NGO Committee had some doubts. Soon after a Delhi-based NGO, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum (AEHRF) applied for the same status in 2000.
Pakistani delegation blocked Indian NGO’s application on one pretext or the other for a couple of years, and finally, Fai, with ISI prompting, approached the representative of AEHRF in New York to persuade the Indian member to accept mutual agreement. The AEHRF representative turned down his request, and till date, AEHRF’s application continued to be deferred by the NGO although it has answered more than a hundred questions put to it during past 12 years.
The Brussels branch chief of Fai’s Kashmir Centre, namely Barrister Tramboo, was extraordinarily active to garner support against Ema Nicholson’s report on Kashmir assigned to her by the European parliament. Fai with all his paraphernalia and a damage controlling team from ISI entrenched in Brussels and maneuvered successfully the watering down of the original report through money power. This is the same Tramboo, who, in order to settle his multi-million outstanding transaction case with the J&K government (probably the Tourist Department), was offered legal assistance by a Supreme Court advocate of Kashmiri origin in return of a hefty amount of fee.
As reported, a warrant under Public Safety Act (PSA) issued by the District Magistrate, Badgam on August 4, 1980 against Fai for his involvement in anti-national activities in Kashmir. However, he deserted the Valley before he could be detained under the PSA and since then hasn’t returned to India.
Documents available with police and Intelligence agencies revealed that it was Fai, who had sown the seeds of subversion and anti-national activities in seventies before deserting Kashmir in 1980. He started his activities from the United States in nineties with the help of Pakistan and its agencies including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Fai along with United States based one Angana Chatterjee had tried to win over a controversial female Indian writer through all possible means including money to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Kashmir and defame security forces especially Army with a view to champion the cause of Kashmiris.
The female writer had recently been in news for sharing platform with a separatist writer in the Kashmir Valley and a Public Interest Litigation had also been filed against her in the court for registering a case of sedition. The Intelligence input revealed that the conspiracy by Fai was made in February 2011. The conspiracy was now part of official Intelligence documents.
“Dr Fai had funded an American Television channel reporter, Dr Rachel Maddow and made him to visit Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in February 2011 to shoot certain programmes in which PoK citizens were shown claiming human rights violations in Kashmir”, sources said.
Sohail Mehmood alias S Mir and Tauqeer Mehmood Bhat, two top officers of Pakistan’s Intelligence Agencies (ISI) were in regular touch with Fai. They had generated all resources for a “100 hour vigil”, a programme sponsored by Fai held at Pennsylvania, United States in which many speakers had alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.
Sources said there were many more Indian writers, intellectuals, journalists, NGOs and other individuals and organisations with whom Fai was in regular touch and managed to win over them to carry out Pakistani propaganda on Kashmir issue.
Fai had worked as General Manager in `Azan’ newspaper at Srinagar, which, according to sources, was also used in seventies for fanning subversion in Kashmir and instigate Kashmiri people against India. He had tried to float a militant outfit, Muslim Students Military Force but hadn’t succeeded in giving a formal shape to it as he deserted Kashmir on issuance of PSA warrant against him, sources said.
By Sanjeev Pargal