Financing militancy in Kashmir

By Kashi Pandit

Answering question in the on-going session of J&K Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti disclosed some figures of monies illegally sent to Kashmir militants or their outfits during past three years. She also gave information on arrests and prosecution made in this connection.

In the past, governments in J&K have generally avoided to make disclosures of this kind in the assembly. However, on rare occasions at best, some sketchy information has trickled down from State Police crime branch sources, which has neither been elaborate nor authenticated.

No militancy, of any dimension and denomination, can be sustained for twenty-seven long years against an overwhelming power like the Indian Defence establishment unless it has a strong, sustainable and perennial source of funding.

Kashmir militancy is not a home-grown indigenous upsurge; it is an armed uprising against the Indian State, intended to remain in place for a long period of time.

Obviously, those who sponsored, abetted and supported it also provided adequate funding, at least in initial stages, till a time when established funding sources stepped in to contribute their bit to the destruction of Kashmir and its people.

Initially, Pakistani intelligence agency ISI diverted a fraction of its American funds for Afghan jihad to Kashmir insurgents who were then active under several groups and names and in both the regions across the Pir Panchal. Each militant outfit formulated its fund acquirement and disbursement mechanism keeping it more of less concealed from the knowledge of other outfits. It was their strategy.

They did not need to spend for purchase of arms and ammunition because the American arsenal provided to ISI for distribution among the mujahideen combats in Afghan war was largely pilfered by Pakistani Generals, and passed on to Kashmir jihadis in their terrorist training camps in Pakistan, PoK and Kashmir valley.

As insurgency spread it tentacles in Kashmir, and Pakistan undertook massive lobbying with Kashmiri Diaspora in the US, UK, European countries and the Gulf States, Pakistani and Kashmiri Diaspora volunteered to raise huge funds in the name of “Islam under threat in Kashmir”.

In UK and Saudi Arabia, for example, rabid sympathizers of “Kashmir freedom” movement would spread out sheets on roadside and set up placards saying “contribute for saving Islam in Kashmir”. In Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) al-Rabita, the premier funding source of propagating Sunni-Hanafi-Wahhabi ideology world over, earmarked enormous funds for Kashmir insurgency as part of international jihad. A good number of Kashmir militant leaders became beneficiaries of al-Rabita’s largesse.

Likewise, Kashmiri expatriates in different countries of the world established scores of collection centres. Some of these worked in novel fashion. For example, in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba in its annual conclaves at Muridke near Lahore displaced placards saying “contribute one rupee to have the head of one Indian soldier in occupied Kashmir”. People donated frugally.

Ironically, reports of embezzlement of “Kashmir Jihad Fund” by top leadership in PoK and other parts of Pakistan also came in. In Kashmir, some militant inter-group cashes were attributed to loot of this jihad fund.

The question was how to send these huge funds to the militant leadership in Kashmir? Indian enforcement department had devised strict rules and regulations to control and monitor foreign remittances.

Thus all fertile brains came together under the umbrella of ISI to devise means and ways of transferring monies to Kashmir for pumping it into armed militancy and keep it alive as long as possible. The innovative means were of hawala, Foreign Indian Currency Network, manufacturing fake notes, concealing Indian and American currency in consignments to be transhipped at authorized border points, persons clandestinely carrying paper currency and many other means.

With the passage of time and increased activities of militancy, money mafia with international ramifications also came into existence. Its managers knew the nitty-gritty of transferring money to Kashmir militants clandestinely.

When the American enforcement authorities arrested one Ghulam Nabi Fai, originally a Kashmiri state subject but migrated to the US and now a US citizen, he confessed before the court of law that he had received funding from Pakistani sources for carrying forward the cause of Kashmir armed insurgency in the US. Everybody knows that Fai was a major beneficiary of Riyadh – based al-Rabita. He frequently travelled to Saudi Arabia.

In this background there is nothing startling in the Chief Minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti placing before the law makers in the Legislative
Assembly some information related to the people engaged in hawala and FICN racket and who have been charged with anti-national activities under the law of the land.

It may be reminded that even senior leaders of the Hurriyat were also reported to be somehow involved in hawala racket. Previous governments in J&K may have deliberately overlooked the matter.

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