NIA raids houses of two Govt officials, 10 cross-LoC traders in Poonch

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Cops guard a house during searches by the NIA in Poonch on Sunday.

Documents, digital devices, other material seized

Money used to fund terrorism/separatism in J&K

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 3: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today carried out raids at residences and other locations of 13 persons including two serving Government officers, one retired official and 10 cross-LoC traders in the border district of Poonch in connection with large-scale transfer of funds from Pakistan to India and their subsequent pumping for fomenting terrorism/separatism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The NIA has recovered important documents, digital devices and incriminating material from the premises of 10 persons where searches were carried out today with the assistance of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP).
The Government officers/officials whose residences were raided by the NIA include Mohammad Azam Rather son of Mohammad Din, a resident of Radio Station Ward No. 9 posted as Tehsil Social Welfare Officer (TSWO) Mandi, Basharat Mehmood Kohli son of Mohammad Yusuf Kohli R/o village Chandak, a Junior Engineer and Mohammad Akram Khan son of Qadeer Joo R/o Ward No. 5 Mohalla Kamsar, a retired Ranger.
Cross-LoC traders and others whose premises were raided today include Mohammad Naveed Rather son of Mohammad Azam Rather R/o Ward No. 9 Poonch, Tariq Mehmood Kohli son of Mohammad Yusuf Kohli R/o Chandak, Mushtaq Ahmad son of Mohammad Ibrahim of Nangali, Javid Khan son of Mohammad Faazil Khan, a resident of Digwar Mardiyalan, Shahzad Ahmed Naik son of Nazir Hussain Naik R/o Kanuyiyan, Abdul Rehman son of Abdul Salaam, a resident of Kassalyian, Abdul Gani Dewan son of Jamal Dewan R/o Chaktroo Mandi, Mohammad Sayeed Qureshi son of Abdul Hamid Qureshi R/o Nangali having garments shop at Qila Market, Shezad Naik having cements store near Sher-i-Kashmir bridge and Munshi Khan S/o Mohammad Hussain of Khari Kaemara, all in Poonch district. Houses of Basharat Mehmood Kohli and Tariq Mehmood Kohli were found looked during the raids.
An official statement issued by the NIA after the raids said documents, digital devices and other incriminating materials have been recovered from the premises of the persons subjected to raids today in connection with cross-LoC trade.
“The trade was based on barter system and third party origin goods were not allowed. The case is related to large scale transfer of funds from Pakistan to India through the import of California almonds (badam-giri) and other items via cross-LoC Trade Facilitation Centres (TFCs) located at Salamabad, Uri in district Baramulla of Kashmir and Chakkan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district of Jammu region,” the statement said.
It added that these funds were purportedly being used for fomenting terrorism/separatism in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Investigations into the case revealed that some of the traders having excess imports were channelizing the surplus profit generated to terror organizations while others are suspected to have links/connections with proscribed terrorist organizations,” the NIA statement said.
It added that the case was registered on December 9, 2016 by the NIA under Section 17 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act vide Regular Case No. 17/2016/NIA/DLI.
On April 18, 2019, India indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, following reports that it was being “misused” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
The LoC trade across Chakkan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district of Jammu region and Salamabad in Baramulla district of north Kashmir was intended as a Confidence-Building Measure (CBM) for the population living in Jammu and Kashmir and across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Since then, the cross-LoC trade on both the routes of Uri-Salamabad and Poonch-Rawlakote remained suspended as the NIA was investigating as to how much amount was exactly pumped into terrorism/separatism by the traders, sources said, adding a number of traders were reportedly used from across the border for handing over surplus amount to the militants in the Kashmir valley while some of them were also reportedly involved in Poonch district.
Some fictitious firms had been floated by the traders to generate profits, a part of which was used for militancy and stone-pelting.
Soon after the Intelligence agencies flagged concerns over misuse of cross-LoC trade money for militancy and separatism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government had suspended trade with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
On some of the occasions, security agencies had also recovered large consignments of arms and ammunition and narcotics hidden in the trucks coming to this side loaded with goods from PoK.