New Delhi, Sep 13:
The Delhi High Court Thursday granted bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, who was arrested by the NIA for his alleged role in a terror-funding case involving Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel set aside the trial court’s June 8 order by which Watali was denied bail. The bench directed that the businessman is released on bail after furnishing a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of the same amount. Watali was directed not to influence or intimidate the prosecution’s witnesses or tamper with the evidence in the case. He was arrested on August 17 last year by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Watali, Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and others have been accused by the NIA of “conspiring to wage war against the government” and fomenting trouble in the Kashmir valley. The bench Thursday directed Watali to surrender his passport before the trial court and said he will not travel abroad without prior permission of the court. “If there is any breach of these conditions, it will be open to the NIA to apply to the trial court for cancellation of bail,” the high
court said. In its charge sheet, the NIA has alleged that officials of the Pakistan High Commission here were passing on money to separatists in Jammu and Kashmir through Watali. Separatist leaders have been accused of taking a cut of the money. Opposing the bail plea, the NIA contended that the sources from which the accused had received the funds could not be satisfactorily explained by him. If released on bail, he might hamper the probe and flee from justice, it said. In his application, Watali said no offence under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was made out against him in the charge sheet. His counsel said the probe in the case was already concluded and the charge sheet was filed. Saeed has been accused of using Watali’s services for passing on the money to the separatists and some individuals, who were actively indulging in stone-pelting in the Valley.
The NIA has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, besides 10 others, with criminal conspiracy, sedition and provisions of the UAPA.
Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has named hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh and Bashir Ahmad Bhat in the charge sheet.
Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency in the terror-funding case.
All the accused are currently in judicial custody.
Two of the accused — freelance photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat — both accused of stone-pelting, were earlier granted bail by the court.