NEW DELHI: Sharad Kumar, the head of India’s lead anti-terror agency, was surprised when this brown envelope landed on his desk. It was a letter from Naseem Geelani, the younger son of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had been summoned by the National Investigation Agency to face questions around the same time.
Mr Kumar didn’t know what to expect.
The agency has been probing terror funding by Kashmiri separatists. It was in this context that the NIA had arrested over half-a-dozen separatists including the SAS Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah. NIA suspects that Naseem, a professor in Sher-e-Kashmir Agriculture University, was also involved.
Naseem promised to turn up in person whenever he was summoned again but appeared to complain that the NIA had sent him the order to appear before investigators directly, not through his university.
“NIA should summon me through my department so that I can avail my travel and dearness allowance,” Naseem said, according to the letter accessed by NDTV.
For the NIA that is probing scores of terror cases, a top agency official said this was the first request of its kind.
“But we have complied with it,” an NIA official said. A fresh order to summon him was immediately sent, this one through the university.
NIA officials aren’t too sure if getting the university to foot his travel bill on official business was his only motive. An NIA official told NDTV that he was probably trying to avoid a situation where the agency could bring him face to face with Altaf Ahmad Shah, currently in the agency’s custody.
This can get to be a pretty tricky situation for suspects and helps investigators who is lying, in double time.
Naseem’s elder brother Naeem – also on the NIA’s radar – had been able to duck the summons for now. He has told the agency that he was unwell.
Both are key suspects for the agency in May 30 case registered against Kashmir separatists for allegedly conniving with outlawed groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba to raise and receive funds to create unrest in the valley. The NIA hopes to get evidence linking terror funding to nail SAS Geelani, considered among the most hardline separatist leader in Kashmir valley.
Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah who was earlier arrested by the Enforcement Directorate is alleged to have indicted Geelani and claimed that Geelani would get a major chunk of funding for his activities from Pakistan. According to investigators, Shabir Shah is also reported to have asked his handlers in Pakistan to directly deal with him and not through Geelani.