Terror-funding case: Court reserves order on Kashmiri businessman’s bail plea

NEW DELHI, June 5: A court here today reserved for June 7 its order on the bail application of Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, who was arrested for his alleged role in a terror-funding case also involving Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

District Judge Poonam A Bamba reserved the order after hearing the arguments on behalf of the accused as well the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Watali was arrested on August 17 last year by the NIA. He is currently in judicial custody.

While senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the NIA, opposed the bail plea, saying the allegations against the accused were very serious, Watali’s counsel said the probe was concluded and no purpose would be served by keeping his client in further custody.

The NIA contended that the source of funds received by the accused was not satisfactorily explained by him and if released on bail, he might hamper the probe and flee from justice.

In his application moved by advocate Shariq Reyaz, Watali contended that no offence under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was made out against him in the chargesheet and that he had already spent nine months in jail.

His counsel said the probe was already concluded in the case and the chargesheet filed.

Watali, Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and others have been accused by the NIA of “conspiring to wage war against the Government” and fomenting trouble in the Kashmir Valley.

In its chargesheet, the NIA has alleged that the officials of the Pakistan High Commission here were passing on money to the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir through Watali.

The separatist leaders have been accused of taking a cut of the money.

Saeed has been accused of using the services of Watali for passing on the money to the separatists and some individuals, who were actively indulging in stone-pelting in the Valley.

The NIA has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, besides 10 others, with criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under the provisions of the UAPA.

Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has also named hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh and Bashir Ahmad Bhat in the chargesheet.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency in the terror-funding case.

All the accused are currently in judicial custody.

Two of the accused — freelance photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf and one Javed Ahmad Bhat — both accused of stone-pelting, were earlier granted bail by the court.

The agency has charged the Hurriyat leaders with acting under the overall guidance of and on instructions from Saeed, Salahuddin and their “Pakistani handlers”. They have also been accused of plotting strategies to launch violent protests in the Valley. (PTI)