The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested a Kashmiri journalist named Irfan Mehraj, a resident of Mehjoor Nagar in Srinagar on Monday evening. Sources told a local news agency, Kashmir Dot Com, that the freelance journalist — the founding editor of Wande magazine and senior editor at TwoCircles.net — was arrested by a special team of NIA.
Official sources said Mehraj has been arrested for investigation by NIA in case FIR no RC-37/2020 registered at NIA Delhi.
They said, “Credible information was received by the Central Government that certain NGOs, Trusts and Societies, registered as well as unregistered, are 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 organisations 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,” they said.
They added, “These NGOs, Trusts and Societies and their members, by words and written means, publish anti-national and incriminating material intended to inspire hatred, contempt and disaffection towards the Government of India.”
Meanwhile, Mehraj was the first accused arrested following comprehensive investigations into the NGO terror funding case registered in October 2020, a spokesperson of NIA said.
“Mehraj was a close associate of (human rights activist) Khurram Parvez and was working with his organisation, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS),” he said.
The agency alleged that the investigation revealed that the JKCCS was funding terror activities and had also been propagating a secessionist agenda in the Valley under the garb of the protection of human rights.
“Involvement of some Valley-based NGOs, Trusts and Societies in funding of terror-related activities is being probed in this case,” the spokesperson said.
The official said some NGOs, both registered as well as unregistered, have been noticed collecting funds domestically and abroad under the cover of doing charity and various welfare activities, including public health and education.
“But some of these organisations have developed links with proscribed terrorist organisations, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM),” the spokesperson said.
Parvez was arrested in November 2021 by the NIA and chargesheeted on May 13, 2022, along with six others for alleged anti-national activities, including collecting information regarding vital installations and deployment and movement of security forces, procuring official secret documents and passing the same to LeT handlers through encrypted communication channels for monetary consideration.
In related news, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti criticized Mehraj’s 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,” Mufti said in a tweet.