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More trouble for former Mufti government minister in Kashmir terror funding case

Security personnel recover arms and ammunition after busting three terror modules in Kashmir (Photo: ANI)

The State Investigation Agency (SIA) in Jammu and Kashmir has on Saturday filed chargesheet in a case of the cross-border terror funding against a Jammu-based Leftist politician Jatinder Singh aka Babu Singh and two others including a close relative of the former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

After completing the 5-month-long investigation, the SIA filed the preliminary chargesheet against the three accused in the court of Third Additional District and Sessions Judge Jammu.

Two of the three accused–Jatinder Singh of Kathua and Mohammad Shareef Shah alias Sartaj of Jammu, who happens to be a cousin to the former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad but is politically opposite to him–had been arrested during a series of raids by the SIA in Kashmir and Jammu in April 2022. The third accused, Mohammad Hussain Khateeb of Bhaderwah, Doda, is absconding in Pakistan. Following a tip off and some raids, the Jammu Police had filed case FIR 73/2022 at Police Station Gandhi Nagar in Jammu.

Babu Singh and Sartaj approached different courts for their release on bail but their petitions were dismissed. The SIA submitted that it’s investigation was inconclusive and sought permission for filing of the supplementary challan in the near future.

According to an official Press release issued on Saturday evening, Shareef was arrested by the Jammu Police along with terror fund amounting to Rs.6,90,000/- which was meant for Babu Singh and was intended to be used for the anti-national activities of Babu Singh and his organisation “Nature Mankind Friendly Global Party”.

Babu Singh, according to the official release,  was in touch with the terrorists of the outlawed Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen and separatists of the unlawful JKLF. “These inimical entities had sent this terror fund from Pakistan through their associates for Babu Singh’s party. The vision document of this party floated by accused Babu Singh was to make J&K, PoK and Gilgit Baltistan as one independent country by making a condominium of Pakistan and India, for having joint control over currency, external affairs and finance”, the press release said.

“In the investigation it has been revealed that Babu Singh was in contact with Mohammad Hussain Khateeb over encrypted social media applications and had clandestinely visited Dubai for arranging funds. Mohammad Shareef Shah was designated as Secretary of this party, who received these funds at Kashmir through unknown person and travelled to Jammu to handover these funds to Babu Singh and this fund was arranged by Mohammad Hussain Khateeb (who is HM terrorist operating from Pakistan) but Mohammad Shareef Shah was arrested before he could hand over this terror fund to Babu Singh”, it added.

“The investigation has established that Babu Singh was conducting online meetings and interviews with adversary and in his online address he has compared a terrorist, Maqbool Bhat with Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev and has termed Maqbool Bhat as Freedom Fighter and martyr of J&K, who laid down his life for the independence of Jammu and Kashmir. In one of such online interviews Babu Singh has challenged and threatened the Government of India to desist from further breaking Jammu and Kashmir, this reference is in context of abrogation of Article 370. The association of Babu Singh with Mohammad Hussain Khateeb and other cadres of HM outfit, operating from Pakistan has also been established in investigation. Anti-national and highly inflammatory content has been recovered by SIA form the mobile phone of Babu Singh which establishes his intention to damage and threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India”, added the press release.

According to official sources, Babu Singh’s name surfaced during sustained interrogation of four persons in a hawala racket on 31 March 2022. As he went into hiding, Police issued a lookout notice against Babu Singh on 6 April. He was arrested on 9 April. Later Shareef was arrested and cash worth Rs 6,90,000 was seized from him.

Shareef revealed that he was tasked by Babu Singh to collect money from a person named Omer in Srinagar. He revealed the names of his local and overseas associates — Javed and Khateeb from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Farooq Khan from Toronto.

While being associated in Jammu with some Urdu newspapers since long, Shareef also functioned as the administrator of a secret WhatsApp group having members from various nations, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Three persons — S Gurdev Singh from Jammu, Sidhant Sharma from Kathua and Shareef Sartaj from Jammu — were detained for questioning.

Babu Singh came from the separatist school of thought founded by Ram Piara Saraf. Saraf was elected to the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly in 1952 and later functioned as Member of Legislative Assembly for 10 years. In 1958 Saraf co-founded Democratic National Conference (DNC) in confrontation with the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad. Subsequently he emerged as a prominent leader of the Communist-Leninist movement.

In 1986, Saraf founded his own splinter group, the International Democratic Party. Two former MLAs of Marxist-Leninist background, Krishen Dev Sethi and Abdul Kabir Wani, also joined Saraf’s IDA. In December 2002, Babu Singh and his associates former Nature-Human Centric Peoples Movement (NHCPM) under Saraf’s guidance.

Babu Singh was returned as an independent candidate from Kathua in the Assembly elections of 2002. He was among a number of the independent MLAs who provided majority to the PDP-Congress coalition which formed the government in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inducted him as Minister of State for Power. Singh has been intermittently advocating Saraf’s idea of the unification of J&K and PoK including Gilgit-Baltistan as a sovereign country with joint control of Pakistan and India over its armed forces and currency. In 2019 and thereafter, Singh strongly opposed the withdrawal of J&K’s special status and split into two Union Territories.