Srinagar: National Investigating Agency (NIA) has arrested seven Kashmiri separatist leaders, including son-in-law of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for allegedly funding terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir.
The seven were arrested for allegedly receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting protests in the Kashmir Valley.
Among those who have been arrested by the central probe agency are, Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Shah, Bitta Karate, suspended Hurriyat leader Nayeem Khan, Hurriyat spokesperson Ayaz Akbar, Pir Saifulla, Merazuddin Kalwal and moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's close aide Shahid-ul-Islam .
Altaf Ahmed Shah, popularly known as Altaf Fantoosh, was in the custody of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, who had put him in preventive detention immediately after the festival of Eid earlier this month.
All the arrested would be brought to Delhi on Monday, an official said.
In June, the NIA had conducted raids across seven locations in Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir and seized several incriminating documents and foreign currency, while probing a case related to terror funding by Pakistan-based groups.
Among those raided by the NIA were Altaf Ahmed Shah, businessman Zahoor Watali, Shahid-ul-Islam, leader of Awami Action Committee led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and some second rung separatist leaders belonging to both factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the JKLF.
The NIA has alleged that since cross-LoC trade, at Uri in Kashmir and Chakan-da-bad in Jammu, was based on a barter system, some businessmen "under - or over -invoiced" their bills, and the difference in payment was later used for promoting subversive activities in the Valley.
Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of the Jamaat-ul Dawah, the front of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), has been named in the FIR as an accused besides organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference (factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz Farooq), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.
The raids were part of the NIA's efforts at clamping down on separatist groups allegedly receiving funds for subversive activities in the Valley.
The NIA had recovered account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups, including of the LeT and HM, from the raids.
The NIA investigation also seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, including those who masterminded the throwing of stones at security forces, burnt down schools and damaged government establishments.
For the first time since the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s, a central probe agency had carried out raids in connection with the funding of separatists.
In 2002, the Income Tax department had raided the establishments of some separatist leaders, including Geelani, and seized cash and documents.