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NIA takes Kashmir financing case from Delhi Police

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over from Delhi Police the case of absconding Hizbul Mujahideen militant Nasir Shafi Mir, who is accused of funding Hurriyat leaders and is believed to have fled the country after jumping bail, officials said here.

The officials said the case was re-registered by the NIA recently and it has initiated investigations into it.

The NIA probe is likely to ascertain how Mir, alias “Babul”, managed to secure a passport from a southern state which he allegedly used in Nepal in October 2008 to leave for Europe.

Mir, a resident of north Kashmir who allegedly used carpet trade and “later a money exchange business in Dubai for sending hawala money to separatist leaders in Kashmir”, was arrested from Lajpat Nagar by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on February 03, 2006. The police claimed seizing Rs 55 lakh in cash and explosives from him.

During his trial, Mir managed to secure bail on the plea that his mother was ill.

The 48-year-old Mir, who the investigators believe was based in Dubai and owns a carpet showroom and money exchange firms in the Gulf, regularly reported to the nearest police station while on bail till early October, 2008.

But after that, he failed to turn up at police stations or in the court for hearings.

According to intelligence inputs, Mir reached Dubai in 2011, making a detour through countries in Europe and Libya. However, he is believed to have now left Dubai.

Mir, against whom a non-bailable warrant was issued in 2009, travelled to Nepal from India, and then used the forged passport to fly out, the officials said.

A resident of Lal Bazar on the outskirts of Srinagar city, Mir dropped out of school in 1983 to get into the carpet business. He continued with the trade till 1990 after which he shifted to the Delhi and started living in the Lajpat Nagar area of South Delhi.

In the late 1990s, he went to Dubai after his father was arrested for alleged links with militants.

Mir had also told investigators that in Delhi he first opened a firm, Kashmir Master Computers, after which he set up a company, Failala, but closed it in 1998.

In 1999, he started a firm called Idekas and then opened an information technology company, he had said.

Police found that in 2002, Mir had opened two money exchange companies, Reems Exchange and Cash Express, in Dubai, which were allegedly used “as a stopover for money being pushed in from Pakistan for militant funding” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Enforcement Directorate had in 2014 attached the Rs 55 lakh that had been seized from Mir.

Mir was subjected to extensive interrogation by central security agencies during which he allegedly spoke about his links with separatists groups and banned militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

According to the ED attachment order, the cash which was in the custody of the Special Cell was “proceeds of crime of terrorist funding and money laundering and hence stands attached.”

This is the first major action against “terror funding” in the country under the stringent provisions of money laundering laws where the onus is on the accused to prove that he or she is “not guilty”.

The attachment of cash or properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is aimed at depriving the accused of the benefits of the assets earned unlawfully.

The NIA had filed a charge-sheet in a separate case against 12 people including chiefs of the Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen Hafeez Saeed and Syed Salahuddin earlier for providing funds to separatists in the Kashmir Valley and waging a war against the country.

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