In the chargesheet filed against the nine accused persons, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have claimed that the Kashmiri students, whose MBBS admission in the Pakistani colleges was managed by some separatists for several years after 1990, used to take the National Talent Search (NTS) test at Hurriyat’s Pakistan office.
The Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK)—a cross-border intelligence wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police which has been lately made an arm of the State Investigation Agency (SIA)—has made sensational revelations in its chargesheet. The 22-page chargesheet was filed on Thursday, 30 December 2021, in the court of the Special Judge for the NIA (National Investigation Agency) cases in Srinagar.
The CIK had filed case FIR No: 05/2020 Dated 27-07-2020 under sections 13, 17, 18 and 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and section 420 of Indian Penal Code after receiving information that a separatist-controlled network had arranged for admission of hundreds of the Kashmiri students in different colleges in Pakistan for several years. It had received information that a part of the money generated through illegal means was being spent on terrorist and subversive activities across Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequently, a money laundering section was also added to the same FIR.
After 13 months of the investigation, in August 2021, the CIK claimed the arrest of six persons while maintaining that some of the accused were based in and operating from Pakistan. Militant-turned-separatist leader Mohammad Akbar Bhat aka Zaffar Akbar Bhat, his Pakistan-based brother Altaf Bhat, Mohammad Abdullah Shah of Kupwara and his Pakistan-based brother Manzoor Ahmad Shah, Srinagar-based woman Fatima Shah and Qazi Yasir of Anantnag are the key accused in the CIK chargesheet.
After functioning as Hizbul Mujahideen’s ‘District Commander’ for Budgam and ‘Divisional Commander’ for Central Kashmir for over three years, Zaffar Akbar Bhat emerged as an associate of Abdul Majeed Dar of Sopore. During his attempts to overthrow Syed Salahuddin and take over as ‘Supreme Commander’ of Hizbul Mujahideen, Dar was shot dead by the militants of his organisation at his home in Sopore in March 2003. All the Hizbul Mujahideen dissidents and Dar’s loyalists, apart from Zaffar, were eliminated one after another.
While Dar’s confidant Masood Tantray aka ‘Commander Masood’ got killed in a Police operation in Pampore, Zaffar’s brother and real estate dealer Abdul Gani Bhat was killed, allegedly by the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen. Thereupon Zaffar managed good relations with the militant organisation through the top separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and he was spared. On the other hand, J&K Police not only left him free to pursue his separatist political activities under the banner of ‘Salvation Movement’, but also provided him a security cover of four armed constables.
Zaffar played a key role in the violent demonstrations and clashes of 2008 and 2010 against the Police and the security forces. In August 2021, he was arrested on charges of managing the Kashmiri students’ MBBS admissions in Pakistan and pumping a part of the proceeds in militancy and separatism. According to the CIK chargesheet, he was operating the admissions gang through his brother Altaf Bhat who crossed over to Pakistan to become a militant in 1990.
Detained in the same case, Qazi Yasir happens to be the successor-son of the slain separatist leader and an influential cleric Qazi Nisar who was shot dead allegedly by the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen in June 1994. The Ummat-e-Islami founder Qazi Nisar played a fundamental role in launching the Jamaat-e-Islami dominated Muslim United Front (MUF) and running its campaign in the Assembly elections of 1987.
The CIK chargesheet illustrates how a well-organised network of separatists and militants, with the support of the Pakistani establishment including the High Commission in New Delhi, roped in the MBBS aspirants in the Kashmir valley and arranged for their admission in different professional colleges of Pakistan against huge amounts of money. The High Commission, it claims, used to issue valid travel documents to the beneficiaries on the written recommendations of some Hurriyat leaders.
“The students were made to appear in the National Talent Search (NTS) test at Hurriyat office in Pakistan as a dupe tactics to make them believe that they were writing a pre-qualifying test which would lead to their admission in professional colleges in Pakistan”, reads the chargesheet accessed by India Narrative. Usually such tests are offered free, or against nominal charges, to foreign students under the Technical Assistance Programme.
Srinagar-based Career Park Educational Consultancy Trust and Andrabi Consultancy, operated by Syed Khlaid Geelani, allegedly conducted the task of picking aspirants and facilitating their passage to Pakistan.
“During investigation, it surfaced that the accused persons affiliated with Hurriyat chapter of Kashmir and Pakistan under a planned conspiracy were illegally accumulating money on pretext of admissions in MBBS courses. While recording the statements it came to fore that the accumulated money was ploughed into militancy and to create law and order problems by disturbing peace, damaging public property, striking terror among the common masses and creating potential threat to the sovereignty of India”, said the CIK chargesheet.
“Money raised through this process was also distributed among the families of killed terrorists as a token of incentive for such families and families of active militants to boost their morale and carry forward antinational, subversive and radical activities against Union of India”, it added. A part of the money collected from the parents of the MBBS aspirants was distributed among stone pelters during the valley-wide turbulence after the Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter in 2016.
The chargesheet has mapped the trail of the money between different characters of the network, notably Mohammad Abdullah Shah, his Rawalpindi-based brother and Hurriyat (Geelani) activist Manzoor Ahmad Shah and Lahore-based brother Mohammad Sayeed Shah, chairperson of Zaffar Bhat’s Al-Jabbar Trust, Fatima Shah, Zaffar and his Pakistan-based brother Altaf Bhat.
Fatima Shah, according to the chargesheet, visited Pakistan several times. Her photographs with the Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin have been recovered from her Srinagar residence. Her sister is married to a Kashmiri militant in Pakistan.
The motive of the whole activity, according to the CIK chargesheet, was “to keep part of terror boiling and infuse new spirit into the terror fold”.
The last batch of the beneficiary students, who had returned to Kashmir due to the Covid pandemic in 2020, have not been permitted by the Government of India to travel back and continue their MBBS studies in Pakistan. Hundreds of the beneficiaries have already completed their MBBS in Pakistan and got regular jobs in the J&K Government. However, the CIK has not framed them as accused in the FIR.