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J&K: Sarjan Barkati's Wife Arrested by SIA for Allegedly Raising Funds to ‘aid Militancy’

Anees Zargar |
The cleric-activist is affiliated with Ummat e Islami Jammu and Kashmir, an outfit led by Mirwaiz South Kashmir Qazi Yasir.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: The State Investigation Agency (SIA) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police said they have arrested Shabroza Bano, the wife of Sarjan Ahmad, also known as Sarjan Barkati, a prominent Muslim cleric and political activist in a case related to alleged terror funding, the agency said.

The SIA said Shabroza, along with her husband, was allegedly found involved in “terror financing” by raising money through crowd funding.

“The case FIR No 02/2023 under Section 13, 17, 18, 21, 39, 40 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 120-B Indian Penal Code, SIA pertains to the involvement of Barkati family in orchestrating an extensive fund-raising campaign through crowd funding, resulting in the generation of funds amounting to Crores,” a statement from the agency read.

The investigative agency further claimed that the funds were subsequently “misused, involving money laundering” and acquisition of undisclosed assets for propagation of radicalism within the Kashmir valley.

Barkati, who is also known as the “pied-piper of Kashmir” for his colourful separatist sloganeering against the government, was arrested earlier in August this year. The SIA claimed that his wife’s role also surfaced in the case and had since allegedly been evading arrest.

 “During the investigation of SIA, Shabroza Bano came out as one of the conspirators and was found hand in glove with her husband and Pakistan based terror handlers in the terror funding case,” the agency claimed. 

Barkati is affiliated with Ummat e Islami Jammu and Kashmir, an outfit led by Mirwaiz South Kashmir Qazi Yasir. He spent four-years in jail in the wake of his alleged role in the 2016 widespread protests in South Kashmir. During this time, his family made fervent appeals for his release as they reportedly faced difficult financial situation. He was released in October 2022 but was again arrested in September 2022 along with a few other religious clerics for about two months.

According to the police, Barkati and his family had managed to raise approximately Rs 1.74 crore through crowdfunding campaigns. “These funds were raised for personal gains and a significant portion of the collected funds was allegedly misused for undisclosed purposes, including financing of secessionist and terrorist activities,” the police claimed, adding that a substantial portion of the acquired funds had been deposited in various Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDRs) under the names of Barkati’s family members, raising questions about the legitimacy of the sources and utilization of the funds.

Barkati was a prominent figure in addressing large-scale protests and demonstration rallies during a summer long agitation that erupted in Kashmir against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016. Over a hundred civilians were killed and thousands were injured during the protest.

During that period, the SIA alleged that Barkati was also involved in abetting youth to storm security forces establishments for which more than 30 FIRs were registered against him in various police stations of the valley.

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