New Delhi: The recently unearthed Hawala trail in the Kashmir valley points to money being allegedly passed to senior Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani following which the separatist leader has been asked not to leave Delhi to face investigations.
Sensing trouble, the Hurriyat faction led by Geelani, who is leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, attempted to downplay the investigations in the Hawala case and announced a bandh call in the Valley tomorrow for what they termed as "harassment of their leader in Delhi."
Geelani's close aide Ghulam Mohammed Bhat was arrested from the Valley last month and Delhi Police and Jammu and Kashmir police allegedly recovered Rs 21 lakh from him which was supposed to be meant for distribution to separatist leadership in the state.
Geelani had told the police team that his advocate would be representing him at the police station, a plea which was turned down by the team, official sources said on Monday. During his interrogation, Bhat is alleged to have told the police that he had passed money to several separatist leaders including Geelani following which Delhi Police swung into action last Saturday and handed over a one-line notice to him prohibiting him not to leave the city until he appeared before the police station concerned for questioning.
However, a spokesman of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference said if Geelani was being implicated in the hawala case, it was an attempt to defame the movement in Kashmir. Ayaz Akbar said the separatist conglomerate did not need hawala money as it was getting enough funds from the people.
"We have baitulmaal (Islamic institutions for collecting money) to take care of the money for carrying forward the movement," he added.
Bhat, against whom five cases including running a hawala racket are already under investigation, was arrested after he was allegedly caught red-handed while receiving Rs 21 lakh. Bhat was earlier arrested in 2008 in Udhampur district while returning to the Valley with Rs 55 lakh alleged Hawala money concealed in a gas cylinder.
Two other persons--one from Kupwara and another from Sopore in north Kashmir--were also arrested in this case, the sources said adding, more arrests were likely after Bhat's detailed interrogation.