SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted multiple raids in Kashmir early Wednesday morning.
Raids were carried out at the offices of a newspaper and a non-profit organization and residences of two of its members; the residences of a rights activist, two journalists and a pro-freedom activist; and the owner of a houseboat.
A journalist working with Greater Kashmir, the largest circulated English daily in the region, told on the condition of anonymity that NIA officials called the owner cum editor-in-chief, general manager and head of the human resources department to the newspaper’s office at Press Enclave in capital Srinagar.
The officials had questioned the owner, Fayaz Kaloo, in June last year at its New Delhi headquarters for several days. In 2018, NIA officials took from the newspaper’s office the unedited copy of an interview of a woman pro-freedom leader Greater Kashmir’s weekly magazine, Kashmir Ink, had published. Auqib Javed, a freelancer who had interviewed her, was summoned to New Delhi for questioning.
A police official, requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media on matters related to the investigation agency, said the offices of non-profit group Athrout was also raided. So were residences of two members associated with it.
The official said the agency is probing into the funding of the non-profit group.
The anti-terror officials also raided residences of internationally reputed rights defender, Khurram Parvez, and journalists Zaheer Din, who is the former executive editor of Greater Kashmir, and AFP’s Kashmir correspondent Parvaiz Bukhari.
Parvez works for the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, which has published several exhaustive reports documenting alleged human rights abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir. Din has done pioneering work on the Kashmiri men subjected to enforced custodial disappearances allegedly by Indian forces.
The residence of a pro-freedom activist named Mohammad Yusuf Sofi in Bandipora district was also raided.
The agency is investigating a terror funding case in which several pro-freedom leaders have been jailed. It is not clear whether Wednesday’s raids are an extension of the earlier case or a new one.
Local police and personnel of paramilitary force are assisting NIA officials in these raids.
In a statement, the investigation agency said it raided 10 places in Kashmir and one in the Indian city of Bengaluru in “a case pertaining to certain so-called NGOs and Trusts raising funds in India and abroad in the name of charitable activities and then using those funds for carrying out secessionist and separatist activities in J&K.”
It claimed seizing “several incriminating documents and electronic devices” from the raided premises.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.