SRINAGAR: The Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) wing of the J&K Police on Wednesday arrested six persons including separatist leader Zafar Akbar Bhat and a woman from north Kashmir’s Baramulla in case registered in July last year in connection with the alleged racket of selling Pakistan-based MBBS seats and of other professional courses by Hurriyat leaders and using part of the money generated for militancy.
In a statement issued today, the CIK identified the arrested persons as Mohammad Akbar Bhat alias Zaffar Bhat, Chairman Salvation Movement, son of Abdul Jabbar, resident of Usmania Colony Baghi-Mehtab in uptown Srinagar, Fatima Shah, wife of Nisar Ahmad Shah of Palhalan, Pattan in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, at present 172, Nundreshi Colony near Sham Lal Pump, Bemina in Srinagar, Mohammad Abdullah Shah, son of Ghulam Ahmad Shah of Kulpora Salkoot in north Kashmir’s Kupwara, Sabzar Ahmad Sheikh, son of Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Nowgam, Shangus in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Altaf Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Jabar Bhat of Shakarpora Bagh-i-Mehtab in Srinagar, presently in Baheria town of Karachi in Pakistan and brother of brother of accused Zafar Akbar Bhat and Manzoor Ahmad Shah, son of Ghulam Ahmad Shah of Kulpora Salkote in Kupwara, at present Gulmohar Colony, near High Court Rawalpindi in Pakistan and brother of accused Mohammad Abdullah Shah for “being a part of the inward and outward supply chains at one stage or the other and where credible evidence could be collected and brought on record.”
Two more accused persons against whom “there is ample evidence are evading arrest and both of them will be arrested soon, ” the CIK said.
It further said that there are two accused individuals involved in the instant case FIR, who ex-filtrated to Pakistan during early 1990s for illegal arms and ammunition training and have settled down on the other side and “played a key role on behalf of ISI in facilitating matter pertaining to admissions under this category for this set of Hurriyat linked persons on Indian side” and were “part of the nefarious design of pumping money into the militancy and other militant related activities”.
The CIK said that Police Station CIK in Srinagar had information through reliable sources “that several unscrupulous persons including some Hurriyat leaders were hand in glove with some educational consultancies and are selling Pakistan-based MBBS seats and seats in other professional courses in various colleges and universities”.
The information on the basis of which criminal investigations had been started into the case registered last year “also suggested that the money collected from the parents of the aspiring or potential students was used, at least partly, to support and fund militancy and separatism in different ways, ” the CIK said.
While investigating this case vide FIR number 05/2020 under section 13, 17, 22A, 40 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act read with section 4 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, many significant facts emerged and came to be established, it added.
“During the investigation, it surfaced that MBBS and other professional degree related seats in many cases were preferentially given to those students who were close family members or relatives of killed militants. There were also cases where the quota allotted to individual Hurriyat leaders were sold to anxious parents desiring to obtain MBBS and other professional degrees in one way or the other,” the CIK said.
Police said that more than 80 cases pertaining to the seats in academic years between 2014-18, were studied in which either the students or their parents were examined. Besides, searches of about a dozen premises in the valley had been undertaken to look for evidence of collection of money and its further usage, police said.
“Analysis of digital records and paper receipts as well as records pertaining to bank transactions revealed that a sizeable portion of the collected money was kept aside for personal use. Evidence also came on record to show that money had been variously put into channels that ended up in supporting programmes and projects pertaining to militancy and separatism. For example, payment for organising stone-pelting also could also be traced and brought on record,” it said.
“Examination of witnesses, corroborated by other circumstantial evidence, also indicated that many families who approached Hurriyat leaders to avail the programme of ISI that aimed at incentivising militancy by compensating the family of slain militants, by way of providing free of cost MBBS and engineering seats were disappointed as monetary consideration was given precedence over the intended objective of the ISI programme”.
Police said that investigation has revealed that on average the cost of a seat ranged between 10 to 12 lakhs. “In some cases, the price was brought down on Sifarish of Hurriyat leaders. In other words, depending upon the political heft of a Hurriyat leader who intervened, concessions were extended to the aspiring student and his family, ” it added.
“On the basis of the available evidence, a conservative estimate indicated that the money involved could be around Rs. 4 crores per annum, on the basis of the fact that allocation of seats for distribution by individual Hurriyat leaders where around 40 seats for MBBS programme every year. It could be more. This aspect is still open and a matter of further investigation”.
The investigation, as per the CIK, “has also revealed that both at the time of collecting the money from the parents as well as channelling it for use by militants and separatists, intermediaries were used to layer the transactions”.
“For example, in some cases money was received through educational consultancies to conceal the end-use,” said CIK in a statement.