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In a first, digital evidence nails Pakistan’s terror-funding trail via Bitcoin trade in J&K

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The Jammu and Kashmir Government's newly created State Investigation Agency (SIA), claims to have cracked for the first time ever, a terror-funding trail from Pakistan that has been operating through Bitcoin trade in the Union Territory.

Seven persons have been arrested and electronic evidence of their involvement in the cross-border terror-related Bitcoin trade has been seized from them in a series of raids in three districts on Wednesday.

The network's Pakistani mastermind has been identified but his antecedents were being kept confidential as it could hamper the investigation, the official spokesman said.

“Houses of suspects in Mendhar Poonch, Baramulla and Kupwara were searched in connection with the investigation of case registered in a counter intelligence police station in Srinagar,” an official spokesman said.

The case, according to the police spokesman, pertains to financing militancy via Bitcoin trade.

“Details that are being investigated into at the initial stage include a mastermind in Pakistan who with active support of Pakistani intelligence agencies and in connivance with militant organizations based in Pakistan has been pumping slush money to their agents in J&K for further distribution among militant organisations, secessionists for fuelling mass violence and militant activities in J&K", the spokesman said.

Preliminary investigation revealed evidence of the "the dirty money" having originated from Pakistan had reached the persons whose houses were searched.

According to the Police spokesman, the transfer of money had been layered to prevent backward tracing of its origin. “While several accounts-in-the-middle that have been used to layer the money are outside J&K, the effective whitewashing of the Pakistani money has taken place through exploitation of loopholes in the international Bitcoin trade," he said.

During today's searches, incriminating material believed to be hidden in digital devices, SIM cards, mobile phones and other documents, having a bearing on the investigation, has been recovered and seized.

“Analysis of the data and questioning of the suspects would follow, and the leads that would emerge, would become the basis of further investigation,” the spokesman said.