New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Delhi High Court order that granted bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in the J-K terror funding case. Watali had been arrested by the NIA in a terror-funding case involving Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed among others.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered NIA submissions that Watali’s release would gravely harm the ongoing probe in the terror-funding case. The bench has now fixed the plea of NIA filed against the Delhi High Court verdict for hearing on September 26 and asked the accused businessman to file his response before that.
Watali was arrested on August 17, 2017, and chargesheeted by the NIA on January 18 along with the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed, and the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Sayeed Salahudeen, along with 10 others. All the accused were chargesheeted under stringent anti-terror laws, for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage a war against India. Earlier, Kamran Yusuf, a photojournalist and Javed Ahmad Bhatt a hawker of home appliances, were granted regular bail after the chargesheet was filed. Only Hafiz Saeed and Salahudeen have not been arrested in the case.
The NIA had alleged that Zahoor Watali moved money from Pakistan to Kashmir to fuel stone-pelting and unrest in the Valley. He was allegedly the connection between LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Earlier this year, the NIA had moved an application in a Delhi court stating that the nine people arrested with demonetised currency worth Rs 36 crore in November last year were not linked with this case. The nine people were arrested in Delhi after the agency got an input about their activities while investigating a case relating to the financing of terror activities in the Kashmir Valley.
During the investigation, it emerged that the people and entities linked to separatists and terrorists were still in possession of a significant amount of demonetised currency notes that could not be converted into new ones.