Shahid is the third son of Salahuddin, who also heads the United Jehad Council
The NIA on Tuesday arrested Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s son Syed Shahid in a six-year-old terror funding case, a day after the government decided to open talks with “all stakeholders” in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shahid, 42, a state government employee, was arrested in Delhi after he was called for questioning at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters.
“Shahid over the years has been receiving and collecting funds through international wire money transfer from” Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aijaz Bhat, a Srinagar resident now based in Saudi Arabia, an NIA statement said.
The NIA said Shahid was one of Aijaz Bhat’s several contacts who were in telephonic touch “to receive the money transfer codes”. The money was meant to fund Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shahid, who lives with his family in Soibugh village of central Budgam district, has a masters degree in agriculture and works as a village agricultural assistant in the state’s agriculture department. His contractual job was confirmed by the government in March this year.
The 2011 terror funding case pertains to terror money sent through hawala channels by militants based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to Jammu and Kashmir.
The NIA had filed two chargesheets against six accused in the case in 2011. Four of them – Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, one of the closest aides of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmad Dagga – are currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Two of the accused, Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Aijaz Bhat, are on the run and have been declared proclaimed offenders. Pandit, like Aijaz Bhat, has been an active Hizbul Mujahideen militant and is currently based in Pakistan.
Aijaz Bhat, according to NIA records, received arms training with the Hizbul Mujahideen in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in early 1990s. He never returned to Srinagar and began working for the militant group in Pakistan. He is said to have stayed in Sialkot before shifting to Saudi Arabia for generating funds for the group’s activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
An NIA official said the agency through phone records found that he was in touch with Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, a Srinagar-based lawyer, in 2011.
According to NIA, the lawyer separatist had procured over Rs 4.50 crore from Pakistan through hawala channels within three years after 2008 for funding militant activities in the Kashmir Valley.
Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, Ganai, Liloo and Dagga were arrested on January 22, 2011 and Rs 21.20 lakh were recovered from them.
After their arrest, Aijaz Bhat used to send money to Shahid. The Hizb founder’s son, according to an NIA official, received at least four instalments of money in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Shahid is the third son of Salahuddin, who also heads the United Jehad Council, the amalgam of Kashmir militant groups based in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan.
Salahuddin unsuccessfully fought the 1987 Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. He then crossed over to Pakistan and founded the Hizbul Mujahideen — the largest militant group in Jammu and Kasmir. Salahuddin has five sons and two daughters, who are all employed with the state government.
Shahid’s arrest — it is the first time any member of Salahuddin’s family has been arrested — comes a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision to start a dialogue process in Jammu and Kashmir and named former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma to talk to all stakeholders.