This is the second part of the three-part series by Dr. Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman of the Panun Kashmir, a frontline organisation of Kashmiri Pandits. Dr. Chrungoo is a guest writer with Canary Trap.
BY DR AJAY CHRUNGOO
‘Hawala Money’ has over the years emerged as a very important component of the illegal economy in the state. Hawala has been used as a main channel to fund the separatist coffers and feed the terrorist regimes in Jammu and Kashmir. Acting as an alternative banking system for illegal transactions a very elaborate network of hawala agents as well as innovative methodologies have evolved in the state over a period of time.
A prominent Kashmir Pandit who visits Kashmir valley frequently was amazed this summer when one of his Muslim friends took him to a readymade garments shop in Srinagar city to observe the sale transactions. The KP noticed that out of many sale counters in the shop only one counter was having rush and customers had to stay in queue. He saw that after purchasing garments from the counter many of the customers tore off the brand labels after coming out of the shop. After inquiring he came to know that it was a very sophisticated hawala procedure.
Instead of sending hard cash the hawala agents send branded ready-made garments to valley. They are sold at prices lower than the market value for those brands to ensure their total sale. To disguise the operation a local brand label is pasted over the original one. The sale proceeds go to the earmarked destination. The sales outlet earns his commission which is hefty. The process takes the shape of normal business and circumvents the risk of sending huge sums of hard cash through hawala agents. Hawala operations invariably require a chain of over ground workers and subversive tentacles.
Hawala operations came to public view with the exposure of Jain Hawala Scandal. The Kashmir connection in this Hawala Scandal was most visible. Jamali Khan a hawala operator, GM Bhat a close aide of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and legal advisor of Hurriyat Conference and Delhi based businessman RK Jain were booked after Jamali and his wife were arrested while transporting Rs 50 lakh hawala cash to Srinagar. As per reports all the three had confessed of having pumped hawala money worth more than Rs 8 crore in Kashmir valley at the behest of Gulf, Pakistan and England based businessmen for almost three years. This hawala operation was a part of a racket operating not only in Kashmir but the entire country.
Nasir Safi Mir considered as the financial muscle of Hurriyat Conference was arrested for ferrying Rs 55 lakh and explosives in February 2006. Mir is Dubai based and owns carpet showroom and money exchange firms in Gulf. Mir was spotted publicly with Hurriyat moderate leader Mir Waiz Umar Farooq. Mir’s father was also arrested in 2001 for funding militant groups in Kashmir Valley.
The Mumbai 7/11 serial blasts were also financed through hawala channel. One Saudi Arabian operative Rizwan Ahmad Davre, an IT professional, is believed to have financed the entire operation from Riyadh by channeling funds sent by LeT Commander Azam Chema from Pakistan to Mumbai through hawala network. Davre had single-handedly bank rolled the whole operation to the tune of over Rs 1 crore that he kept sending to Faizal Sheikh, the suspected LeT chief of Mumbai.
- Police arrested one Naseer Ahmad from Bhatt Dhar in Mendhar for being part of a hawala network busted by police in Rajouri in September 2006. He was suspected to be transferring money to Jaish-e-Mohammad network.
- In July 2006 a militant Aijaz Hussain was arrested in South Delhi with 2.5 kgs of RDX and Rs 49 lakhs of hawala money.
- Police in April 2006 arrested a top functionary of Hizbul Mujahideen, Mohammad Shafi Sheikh, at Doru, Sopore. He was a trained terrorist and financial controller of HM who had distributed Rs 41 lakh to various local militants.
- In April 2006 a Hawala Network linked to Pir Panchal Regiment of Hizbul Mujahideen was busted. Its main functionary Advocate Aijaz Zaki was arrested along with his three accomplices. They would distribute money to various terrorist operatives.
- In January 2005, Intelligence Bureau captured a hawala operator of Kashmir for smuggling cash consignments from New Delhi to Doda. Mushtaq Ahmad of Srinagar was arrested along with Rs 50,000 hawala money. Along with Mushtaq, three militants were arrested with hawala money of Rs 9.38 lakh, which was meant for terrorists at Bari Brahmna Jammu in 2005.
- One of the main financers for terrorists in valley has been Ayub Thakur who died in 2004. He had created a UK based world Kashmir freedom movement (WKFM) for clandestinely funding secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian officials handed over evidence of clandestine funding by WKFM of terrorist groups in J&K to British government. The UK based Thakur’s charity failed to conceal the flow of funds into J&K for separatists and terrorists. The passage of these funds was through Standard Chartered, Grindlays Bank, and Development Credit Bank. A Srinagar based newsman recovered Rs 4,84,875 into his account in Standard Chartered Bank and Rs 11,98,00 in Development Credit Bank.
- On November 15 2003, police revealed that HM Financer Khalid Hussain had given a consignment of Rs 10 lakh to a brother and sister in Sidhra Jammu. Ali Mohd and his sister Nadir Tabassum (Sweety) received the money but a major part of it was either looted or misappropriated. The brother sister duo was arrested. They had to transfer the money to Jamaal Din of Gool who was the deputy financial chief of Hizbul Mujahideen for Pir Panjal range.
The hawala transactions reveal not only the modus operandi of money transactions but also the elaborate network of over ground workers who are part of a elaborate subversive establishment. This establishment is gradually transforming Kashmir valley into a den of illegal economy causing irreparable damage to the social set up.
Click here for Bad money creates parasitic culture in J&K – Part 1
Click here for Bad money creates parasitic culture in J&K – Part 3