Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested a Kashmiri freelancer journalist in an alleged terror funding case, official sources said.
They said Irfan Mehraj, an independent journalist and researcher based in Srinagar, was arrested by NIA on Monday evening in a FIR registered at NIA police station New Delhi in which human rights activist Khurram Parvez was arrested in 2021. Irfan was formerly a researcher with Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a prominent rights group headed by Khurram.
Irfan has been shifted to Delhi, the sources said.NIA has not issued any statement on the arrest.Irfan’s work has appeared in TRT World and various national and local media.
The case pertains transfer of money to J&K by NGOs through Hawala channel for terrorist activities in Kashmir valley.
The summary allegations of the case are that Central Government received credible information that certain NGOs, Trusts and Societies, registered as well as un-registered, were collecting funds domestically and abroad through donations, business contributions etc. in the name of charity and various welfare activities such as public health, education etc.
“Some of these NGOs have links with proscribed terrorist organisation such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) etc. Further, funds collected by such NGOs, Trusts and Societies are sent to Jammu & Kashmir through various channels such as cash couriers, Hawala traders based in Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India to sustain the secessionist and terrorist activities in Kashmir Valley, as a part of a larger criminal conspiracy hatched by these NGOs, Trusts and Societies etc., prejudicial to the unity, integrity, sovereignty and security of India,” the FIR summary said.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti criticized the arrest and alleged that journalists are arrested for doing their duty by speaking the truth.
“While conmen are given a free run in Kashmir, journalists like Irfan Mehraj are arrested for doing their duty by speaking the truth. Draconian laws like UAPA are abused constantly to ensure that the process itself becomes the punishment,” she tweeted.