ED attaches Rs 1.73 cr assets of Zahoor Watali

The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said it has attached assets worth Rs 1.73 crore of Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali in connection with a militant funding and money laundering case.

It said a provisional order has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for attachment of Rs 1.48 crore worth immovable properties of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali’s family and Rs 25 lakh of his deposits in a Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Delhi.

The ED case is based on a charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency as part of its probe against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed.

“Watali has been found to be involved in fund raising and as a financial conduit of Hurriyat leaders,” the ED had said earlier.

It said, in a statement, that probe revealed that the “Hurriyat leaders have received funds from Pakistan through conduits and also from the Pakistan High Commission directly.”

“This was substantiated by an incriminating document seized from the house of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat during search,” it said.

Bhat worked as a cashier-cum-accountant with Watali, the ED said.

“The document clearly indicates that Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed (LeT and Jamaat-Ud-Dawa chief), from ISI, from the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi and also from a source based in Dubai,” it said.

“Watali was remitting the same to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters of Jammu and Kashmir. The said document has been maintained in regular course of his business and is signed by Watali,” it added.

This document, the ED said, indicated that the Hurriyat leaders were receiving funds from Pakistan through the officials of the Pakistan High Commission and through Watali.

The agency said the signature of Watali “has been verified” and as per the expert report, his signature on the stated document matches with his specimen handwriting as well as his admitted handwriting.

The agency has attached assets worth about Rs 9 crore in the case against the Kashmiri businessman till now as part of a crackdown against militant funding and separatist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The agency said that the NIA probe has revealed that the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and others instigate the public, especially youngsters, to observe strikes and issue directives to the masses to hold anti-India protests, demonstrations and processions through press releases, newspapers and social media. “This is done willfully to create such circumstances which will arouse disaffection among the people of Jammu and Kashmir towards the Government of India,” the ED had said.

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

In its charge sheet, the NIA has alleged that Watali received money from ISI of Pakistan, the Pakistan High Commission here and from a source in Dubai.

Watali is lodged in the Tihar jail at present in connection with the NIA case.