|Early Times Report|
JAMMU, Aug 18: The National Investigating Agency (NIA) is now catching big fishes and those who were very close to Hurriyat, and Pakistani secret agency ISI. Its latest catch is Zahoor Watali, Srinagar-based big businessman and a man with connections with several politicians and bureaucrats besides separatists and Pakistan based outfits.
The NIA arrested him on Thursday from Srinagar for his alleged hawala connections. As per a report from New Delhi, he was arrested because he was "a hawala conduit for foreign agencies".
The NIA had first questioned Watali on June 4, 2017, and obtained several documents related to receiving funds from foreign sources and their distribution to separatists and terrorists for anti-India activities.
There are now documents available in public domain which show in great detail the huge assets of Watali.
In Katwari village of Handwara district in Kashmir, Watali owns land, houses and shops worth Rs 50 lakh (date of estimation not known) in and around this village. In the Narbal area of Srinagar, he owns as many as 300 kanals of land. He owns a slew of companies in ply board manufacturing, construction in Kashmir.
Watali also owns properties in Jammu, Punjab and Delhi, A report says he could have been helped by "ex-top cop in Punjab".
In Delhi and adjoining Haryana's Gurugram, Watali has a "set of 20 flats in an NRI Complex". Besides, he has a "flat in the DLF estate in Gurugram".
According to a report, Watali has "a 23-storied building in Porchester Place, in Hyde Park, neighbourhood of London".
Not just this, Watali owns "houses and a construction company, Trison International Commercial Brokers Ltd in Dubai". Besides, he runs "business in UAE, NZ International, Azman UAE".
Watali has links with politicians across the border also and these are all well documented. A report in this connection said, "he is in direct or frequent contact with former PoJK chief minister Sardar Ateaq Khan, Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary and Federation of Pakistan's Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Haji Tariq Shafi. He had invited Ateaq Khan, Chaudhary and Shafi to his son Yasin Ahmad Watali's wedding in Srinagar in September 2011".
It bears recalling the Watali was first arrested in August 1990 for "harbouring militants in Kashmir". After his release in April-may 1991, Watali was again apprehended in August 1994 for "connections with financing of militant outfit Al Burq by Pakistan's Inter service Intelligence (ISI)". In 2005, there were indications that "Watali had been acting as a conduit for the clandestine flow of large amounts of money from ISI to various separatists bodies in Jammu & Kashmir and for the rebuilding of Charar-e-Sharief Mosque".
All these details, according to the NIA, are enough to pin Watali down and also obtain from him more information about all of his activities and connections in and outside India, including PoJK and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, A Delhi court on Friday allowed to quiz Zahoor Watali arrested on the charge of receiving funds from Pakistan till August 28.