SIA conducts searches in 8 places in terror funding case

Srinagar,  Jammu and Kashmir’s Police’s State Investigation Agency (SIA) on Saturday carried out raids at eight places in a case related to the alleged collection of funds of more than Rs 1.5 Crore by Moulana Sarjan Barkati, the face of 2016 protests in Kashmir, officials said.

The SIA had registered a case related to crowdfunding against Barkati and others in which he has allegedly raised huge funds amounting more than 1.5 Crore, with his family making emotional appeals to the general public to support them for day to day needs.

“Under this garb he not only generated huge funds but prima facie also laundered money coming from unknown sources suspected to have originated from terror outfits for further use in sustaining the secessionist-terrorist campaign,” the agency said.

In 2016 unrest in Kashmir, Barkati a resident of Zainpora Shopian, had coined and popularized many slogans and he was booked under Public Safety Act for organising anti-government rallies. He remained in custody for over four years.

Officials said SIA launched early morning searches, which are still underway, to investigate the funds flowing through the known secessionist Barkati.

“So far SIA have identified 10 suspects whose involvement has surfaced in the initial investigation,” the officials said.

They said each search is backed by search warrants issued by competent court, magistrates, local police assistance, lady police team, spotters, and transport support by the security wing of J&K police.

“With the seizures of electronic gadgets, incriminating material and other corroborative evidence during these searches, SIA is hopeful that the searches would enable it to extract some vital evidence as to who all have contributed to the Sarjan Barkati fund, what was the source of such money, how much of it was from legitimate income and how much from unaccountable sources, whether such sources had anything to do with terror and Hurriyat finances,” they said.

The SIA said preliminary investigations have shown Barkati has “diverted” a substantial part of the funds for his “personal benefit” and purchased a piece of land worth Rs 45 Lakhs in Anantnag town in the name of his wife which he sold for Rs 72 Lakhs, making a profit of Rs 27 Lakhs and has also built a palatial house using public money.

He has also purchased 5 Kanals of land to establish a Madrassa which as per credible information is meant for making money and provide platform to anti national elements and also aimed to be a breeding ground for luring youth towards terrorism, officials said.

“A large chunk of such ill-gotten money has been deposited in several FDRs in the name of his family members. Not only has the accused breached the public trust with emotional blackmail by building a personal fortune on the crowd funds donated to him by public for the daily sustenance, he as well camouflaged money coming from suspects sources under the garb of crowd funding for furtherance of secessionist-terrorists campaign,” they said.