Hizbul Mujahideen’s Punjab terror-funding module busted

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Pulwama: Security forces conduct cordon and search operations after two militants were killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, on May 18, 2019. One of the slain militants has been identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar, a resident of Panzgam village. He belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi  A major terror-financing module of the banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen has been busted after the prime accused was arrested from Sirsa, Haryana, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday. The module was being run through narcotics smuggled into India along with rock salt imported from Pakistan.

Official sources said on the basis of specific intelligence generated by NIA, the prime accused Ranjit Singh (also known as Rana or Cheeta) was arrested along with his father Harbhajan Singh and brother Gagandeep Singh in a joint operation by NIA, Punjab Police and Haryana Police.

Ranjit, according to official sources, was involved in the the Hizbul terror-financing module run by Hilal Ahmad Wagay, a resident of Nowgam, Awantipora in south Kashmir. Wagay who carried Rs 29 lakh for terror activities was arrested in Amritsar on April 25.

During the subsequent investigation, Bikram Singh (alias Vicky) from Guru Amardas Avenue, Amritsar, was identified as the person who delivered the money to Hilal. Bikram was arrested along with his brother Maninder Singh (Mani) earlier this week on May 5.

Sources said during their interrogation, they revealed that the money delivered to Hilal Ahmad Wagay was given by Iqbal Singh (Shera) and Ranjit Singh, both chargesheeted absconders in an NIA case related to the seizure of 532 kg heroin from the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari international border last year.

“This clearly exposed the narco-terror financing angle in the case,” an official who did not want to be named, told the IANS. The NIA has been at the forefront of investigations into terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir.

The narcotics were hidden in a consignment of rock salt imported from Pakistan. The seizure was made by customs authorities at Attari last year on June 29, when contraband was discovered during the inspection.

Sources said the investigation established that the seized consignment was part of five consignments of drugs, out of which four have been successfully smuggled into India. Investigations also revealed that Pakistan-based entities are smuggling narcotics into the Indian territory by hiding it in sacks of rock salt imported from Pakistan.

“This is done through an elaborate network of importers, customs house agents, transporters and the operation is financed through illegal channels like hawala,” an official said. The involvement of Pakistan and Afghanistan based entities in this case gave an indication that the entire operation is to generate finance for terror networks operating in and out of Af-Pak region, he said.

The first charge sheet in the case was submitted by NIA last year on December 27 in a special court at Mohali against 15 accused, including Ranjit and four companies.

A notorious drug trafficker, Ranjit, originally a resident of village Havelian, district Tarn Taran, has been living at Darshan Avenue, Ram Tirath Road, Amritsar, sources said. As per the NIA chargesheet, he along with his five brothers, is involved in smuggling and drugs trade.

His two brothers Kuldeep Singh (Babbu) and Balwinder Singh (Billa) are also in jail in connection with Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act cases. His other three brothers, Mandeep Singh (Makka), Swaran Singh (Bhola) and Gagandeep Singh (Nona) were absconding along with Ranjit.

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