SRINAGAR, July 1: In a development that could surcharge Kashmir in coming days, the police have started seizing immovable properties that it believes were created or acquired using hawala money.
This weekend properties belonging to two Sopore residents were seized and in one case, the inmates of a house were actually pushed out as the property was sealed.
Police said they acted within the law and seized the property built by hawala funds. It was investigating FIR of 2006 that suggested accused separatist leader Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori was a conduit for funding the militant outfit Harkat-e-Jehadi Islami (HJI).
State Police Chief accepted the recommendation made by the investigating officer on May 18, 2012 that the property built with hawala money is attached.
The action was carried out under sections 120B, 489C of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), and 7/25 of Arms Act and 40/A of Unlawful Activities (P) Act.
But Sopori reads a political vendetta in the police action. In 1990, Sopori said his four shops and a house that he owned in Sopore were destroyed in fire that security forces lit.
“To save our lives, we fled to Srinagar where we lived in rented accommodation for a long time,” Sopori said.
As his sons grew up, they started arming and in 1998, his wife acquired three marlas of land in uptown Chanpora locality for Rs 175 thousand rupees on which they constructed a small house that was later damaged by 2005 earthquake. Sopori’s two sons are employed in private sector, his other third son is self employed and his daughter is pursuing studies
“I am in politics for last more than fifty years and I have pent more than 17 years in jail,” Sopori who protested along with his wife, three sons and a daughter in Paratap Park said.
“My only guilt is that I am associated with Syed Ali Geelani’s Hurriyat Conference.” Sopori, a Peoples League leader, said he was asked to dissociate from Geelani many times. Police, he said, did not permit him even to wind up his family belongings. Now the family is gong to court after getting some place on rent.
Sopori’s house attachment is the historic first in a decade. It was in 2001 when the state government promulgated Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and seized the house of a resident in old city Safa Kadal.
Though the law was repealed by Mufti Sayeed led government in 2002, the accused Ghulam Mohammad Dar could prove his innocence only in December 2010 – eight years later. Now the police have invoked provisions within the exiting laws to crate a POTA effect.
This time, Sopori is not alone. In Sopore’s Wagub village, police said they attached a house, a car and 15 kanals of land scattered over eight different places belonging to Abdul Razaq Lone. Family was not evicted but placards were erected at seized spots reading: “This property is attached under section 25 of ULA (P) Act and shall not be transferred or dealt otherwise without the prior permission of the investigating officer.”
Police said one of Lone’s sons Majeed is in PoK and is a Hizb militant. He does not want to return home so he has advised his brother to transfer the value share of his landed property to him through militant channels.
(The author is Assistant Editor with The Economic Times)