The seven Hurriyat leaders were arrested on Monday in connection with their involvement in alleged funding for “militancy and subversive activities” in Kashmir. Their arrest came nearly one-and-a-half months after the National investigative agency unearthed electronic evidence of their communication links with four dozen J&K youths tracked repeatedly amid stone-pelting mobs over the past year.

Those arrested are mainly from the Geelani camp, including his son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Fantoosh. The most prominent of those arersted is Naeen Khan who purportedly set the stage for NIA probe after he allegedly confessed during a TV sting operation that he receieved money from Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba to “create chaos” in Kashmir. While Khan claimed that the sting was fake and doctored, he was suspended from the Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani.

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Telephonic conversation showed nearly 48 ‘habitual’ stone-pelters were in contact with local and mid-level Hurriyat leaders revealing a terror funding pattern. The separatist bigwigs passed fund to local leaders who would pay the youth to pelt stones.

The central agency focussed on youth present at three or more stone-pelting locations across Pulwama, Anantnag, Badgam, Kulgam, Tral, Awantipora, Shopian and Baramulla and on that basis drew up a list of around 48 “habitual” stone-pelters and tracked their phone call records as well as social media activity. Many on the list were found to be in frequent touch with local and middle-level Hurriyat leaders.

An NIA officer said that phone call details of the alleged stone pelters show them to be in conversation with Hurriyat leaders with differing frequency over the past 11 months.

The further said that the NIA needs to substantiate this technical evidence with an investigation on the ground. “the technical evidence unearthed by NIA shows several layers of communication-…there are multiple contacts between the seemingly ‘professional’ stone-pelters and the top Hurriyat leaders,” he added.

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He also alleged that there is prima facie evidence of cash transfers from the Hurriyat leaders to the stone-pelters, signalling an ‘organised’ angle to the mob violence in Kashmir that took place following the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.

Their facebook accounts also seem to indicate involvement and sympathy with terrorist leaders and outfits as well as links to stone pelting.

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