SIA arrests Sarjan Barkati for crowdfunding to promote radicalism

‘His actions amount to betrayal of public’s trust’
File Photo of Sarjan Barkati
File Photo of Sarjan Barkati

Srinagar: The State Investigation Agency (SIA), Kashmir arrested Sarjan Ahmad Wagay alias Barkati of Shopian district of south Kashmir for his alleged involvement in orchestrating an extensive fund-raising campaign through crowdfunding to promote radicalism. He was arrested by the anti-terror arm of J&K Police in Case FIR No 02/2023 of Police Station, SIA.

“The case pertains to Barkati’s involvement in orchestrating an extensive fund raising campaign through crowdfunding, resulting in the generation of funds amounting to crores of rupees. These funds were subsequently misused, involving money laundering and acquisition of undisclosed assets for propagation of radicalism within Kashmir,” the SIA said here.

The investigation agency said that Barkati, also known as ‘Azadi Chacha’ gained prominence in 2016 following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by security forces.

It said Barkati was a central figure in orchestrating large-scale protests, rallies, and clashes with security forces in 2016 for which more than 30 FIRs were registered against him in various police stations of Kashmir.

The SIA Kashmir said that Barkati managed to raise approximately Rs 1.74 crore through crowdfunding campaigns.

It said that these funds were ostensibly raised for personal gains and a significant portion of the collected funds was allegedly misused for undisclosed purposes, including possible financing of secessionist and terrorist activities.

During investigation, the SIA Kashmir said it found that Barkati had not only exploited public sentiment and trust for personal financial gain but also potentially laundered funds from unidentified sources, suspected to have links with terrorist organisations.

It said that a substantial portion of the acquired funds had been deposited in various Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDRs) under the names of Barkati’s family members, raising questions about the legitimacy of the sources and utilisation of funds.

The SIA said that Barkati’s actions amounted to a betrayal of the public’s trust as he allegedly manipulated emotional appeals and crowdfunding platforms to further personal and potentially illicit agendas.

The agency noted that Barkati’s activities not only tarnished the sanctity of crowdfunding but also raised serious concerns about the misuse of such resources for promoting separatist-terrorist activities.

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