New Delhi, Feb. 6: Delhi police today arrested a woman and seized from her over Rs 3 lakh, which she allegedly said was given to her by deputy Pakistani high commissioner Jalil Abbas Jilani for distribution among militants in Kashmir.
Identified as Anjum Zamarud Habib, the 42-year-old is said to be an active member of the Muslim Khwateen-e-Markaz, the women’s wing of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference.
Habib was picked up near Nehru Park — a stone’s throw from the Pakistan high commission in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri. On information provided by her, the police also picked up Shabir Ahmad Dar, head of the Kashmir Awareness Bureau. Based in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, the outfit is close to the Hurriyat.
An amount of Rs 2 lakh and propaganda material, including video and audio cassettes and books depicting atrocities committed by Indian forces on Kashmiris, were found at Dar’s residence-cum-office, the police said.
Both have been booked under Section 22 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act for providing funds to militants.
If the charges are proved, it could lead to Jilani’s immediate expulsion and put more strain on relations between the neighbours which dipped further after official-level talks failed to resolve their differences on India’s 450-mw hydro-electric project over the Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is sure to reciprocate by forcing Sudhir Vyas, Jilani’s Indian counterpart in Islamabad, to leave.
This would create a situation where the high commissions of the two countries will be bereft of any senior diplomat. Both countries withdrew their high commissioners following the standoff after the Parliament attack in December 2001.
Jilani brushed off the charges of funding militancy as “absolutely nonsense”. He claimed he had never met Habib and that he had met Dar many months ago at some function. “This seems to be another vilification campaign launched by the government to provoke Pakistan,” he said. “But I never thought they will stoop to such a level.”
The Indian foreign ministry trod with caution, maintaining that it was yet to receive a detailed report from Delhi police. “We will decide on our next course of action after that,” a senior official said.
But Neeraj Kumar, joint commissioner of Delhi police (special cell), at a late-night press conference said: “We had prior information that a woman would be coming to the Pakistan high commission to collect money.”
He said a police team, which was keeping watch, noticed Habib coming out of the high commission around 1.15 pm. Her taxi was intercepted near Nehru Park and “a personal search” revealed she was carrying Rs 3.07 lakh.
“Anjum revealed that she had been sent to the Pakistan high commission to meet the deputy high commissioner on the instructions of Abdul Gani Bhat, APHC chairman,” Kumar said. He alleged that the fund was meant for distribution among militant outfits operating in Anantnag.
Asked if the police were thinking of taking action against Bhat, Kumar said: “We cannot take action merely on the basis of Habib’s statement.”
Habib, whose visiting card describes her as a “social and human rights activist” and a member of the Hurriyat, had arrived in Delhi yesterday. She was staying with Dar and was to return on February 8. Jammu and Kashmir police have also conducted raids at her Mohallah Mehman residence in the Islamabad area of Anantnag.
The police claimed to have checked her e-mails and found that she was in constant touch with the Pakistan high commission.
According to the police, Habib revealed during interrogation that she was asked by Jilani to be in touch with Dar, who had been given some funds recently.