List includes assets belonging to terror accused or family members, Jamaat cadres, houses where militants sought shelter.
Almost 200 different properties belonging to persons accused in various cases have been attached in Jammu and Kashmir since 2019. Majority of the seizures worth crores of rupees took place in 2023. Least properties were attached in 2020 and 2021.
The properties seized and attached include residential houses, business establishments and immoveable properties. While no official list was available about the total number of properties, a deep dive KASHMIR TIMES investigation collating from different sources, estimated their number could be around 200.
Different news reports in the last four years indicate that the properties have been attached of persons mostly linked to terror activities. Though most of these properties, the exact number of which is unspecified, were attached by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Jammu Kashmir Police, some of the attachments were affected by Jammu & Kashmir Police or unspecified ‘authorities’.
Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief, Asiya Andrabi, and businessman Zahoor Wattali are among those whose properties have been attached. Properties of several other terror-accused and the now outlawed Jamaat-e-Islami activists comprise bulk of the list.
The list also includes those accused of sheltering militants and those whose property was used for alleged terror activities. Interestingly, it also includes some drug smugglers.
It also includes seizures of properties owned by family members of the accused. In one such case, the property in the name of grandfather of a terror accused has been classified as “proceeds of terrorism”.
UAPA and Logic of Deterrence
The cases and the laws applied for attaching these properties, however, are less clear.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act (UAPA), 2019 allows the director general (DG) of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to approve the seizure or attachment of property which is believed to represent the proceeds of terrorism.
Before 2019, any seizure or attachment required the approval of the director general of police (DGP) of the state in which the property is situated. More importantly, the government had the power to attach properties under UAPA but only the judiciary was empowered to declare anyone a terrorist.
Only some of the reports point out that the action of attachment of property has been executed after relevant court orders.
The police officials state that attachment of properties acts as a deterrent. “The attachment of property serves as a strong message to terrorists and their supporters that their actions will not go unnoticed or unpunished. It underscores the unwavering commitment of the police to combat terrorism at its roots and dismantle its infrastructure,” a police statement said on August 1, 2023.
The statement was released after the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) attached the property (a land measuring 6 kanals and 3 marla) of a militant, identified as Adul Rashid Qureshi alias Farooq Qureshi, operating from Pakistan in Kupwara District of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and said to be a member of the Al-Barq.
Qureshi’s property, measuring six kanals and three marlas, at village Kachama, was attached by SIU Kupwara after “extensive intelligence gathering and meticulous investigations into a case registered by Kupwara Police under IPC sections 120-B, 121, 121-A, 122, 123, and sections 17, 18, 18-A, 18-B, 20, 38, 39, 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” the statement added.
In the most recent case, the Police on October 20, 2023 attached the property of an absconding Pakistan-based militant identified as Feroz Ganie, in Awantipora Town of Pulwama District in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). One piece of orchard land (01 Kanal and 15 Marlas) was attached by the orders of the Additional Sessions Judge in Pulwama of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court.
Properties of family members
In some cases, properties belonging to family members of accused have been attached.
For instance on August 24, 2023,
Police attached property belonging to the grandfather of a person accused to be a ‘hybrid militant’ in Nadihal area in Bandipore District and classified as ‘proceeds of terrorism’.
Police in tweet informed that “the land measuring 04 marlas under Khasra No 384 in the Nadihal Bandipora estate, previously registered under the name of Salam Shah, grandfather of accused Mehboob-ul-Inam Shah, has been classified as “proceeds of terrorism”.”
The property has been attached in case First Information Report (FIR) No 112/2022, which involves sections 18, 19, 20, 23, 38, 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as well as 7/25 I.A, Act, lodged at Police Station Bandipora.
In yet another similar case that earlier came to light in 2020, the NIA attached the property of the father of an accused. On September 19, 2020, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) ordered attaching of a property belonging to Nazir Ahmad Reshi, the father of Irshad Ahmad Reshi, who was arrested by the NIA for his alleged involvement in the Lethpura attack on Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Group Centre that left five CRPF personnel and three militants dead on December 31, 2017.
Logistical support and shelter
The NIA said that Irshad Ahmad Reshi was an active Over Ground Worker (OGW) of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group. “He was a close associate of slain militant and JeM ‘commander’ Noor Mohammad Tantray alias Noor Trali. The attack on CRPF Group Centre, Lethpora, Pulwama District, was executed under a conspiracy to avenge the death of Noor Trali, who was killed in an encounter with security forces in December 2017 [December 25],” as per the NIA.
Properties of several other persons accused of being Over Ground Workers or providing shelter or logistical support to militants have also been attached.
For instance on March 17, 2023 Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) attached the property of an Over Ground Worker (OGW), identified as Mohammad Abdullah Mir, under section 25 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for providing shelter and logistic support to terrorists in Handwara in Kupwara District. Yet again on March 20, Jammu Kashmir Police attached properties of two Over Ground Workers in Bandipora. They were identified as Abdul Majod Reshi and Mohammad Jamal Malik.
On May 10, 2023 The National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached the properties of three accused in two different cases involving cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). In one of these cases, property of an Over Ground Worker (OGW) allegedly working for JeM was attached. The NIA statement stated, “the property of accused Fayaz Ahmad Magray, an Over Ground Worker (OGW) of JeM, was attached, which included six shops constructed over land measuring 5.5 Marlas in Lethpora, Pulwama District.”
In a prelude to such actions against those accused of sheltering or harbouring militants, on March 25, 2022, a report pointed out that police has started the process of attaching immovable properties that were used to provide shelter to militants and also the houses where planning for militant attacks on security forces and civilians were hatched.
The process has been started from Srinagar District of Jammu and Kashmir, it said. “Process has started for attachment of some immovable properties which have been used for the purpose of militancy as per Section 2(g) & 25 of ULP Act. Don’t give shelter or harbour militants / associates. Legal action will be supplemented by property attachments as per law,” the report said, quoting a tweet by Srinagar Police.
It quoted Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Rakesh Balwal as saying that houses where encounters took place, houses where militants took shelter and planned attacks on SFs and civilians will be attached. “So far in 2020-21, over a dozen such houses have been identified in downtown, Pantha Chowk, Soura, Batamaloo, Nowgam and Harwan,” the report further said.
On April 13, 2022, in the first such incident of its kind, a residential house in Srinagar was seized by the police, three days after an armed encounter that left two militants dead. “We will seize all properties of the people, wherever, there is an encounter, or the property is used as a hideout of the terrorists,” Inspector General of Kashmir Police Vijay Kumar told newspersons, after the seizure.
Earlier, in hundreds of cases, the security forces have blown up the houses, in which militants were holed up, after the encounters. While security officials reason this is necessary for ensuring there are no booby-traps left behind by the militants, locals allege that it is vendetta. Militants sometimes seek shelter at gun-point, they say.
Majority of the reported attachments belong to the now outlawed Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). On May 29, 2023, State Investigation Agency (SIA) of Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) sealed 20 shops worth Rs 30 million belonging to the JeI in Kupwara District. The property was barred with restrictions on usage and entry through a notification issued by District Magistrate (DM) Kupwara, on the recommendation of SIA, an official statement said.
“To choke the availability of funds for secessionist activities and to dismantle the ecosystem of anti-national elements & terror networks hostile to India’s national security, sovereignty, integrity and unity, property belonging to and held by banned JeI at Kupwara has been notified by concerned District Magistrates in the exercise of the powers conferred under section 8 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 & Notification No. 14017/7/2019, dated 28- February- 2019 of Union Ministry of Home Affairs,” the statement added.
A report by India TV on May 29 said, “SIA has identified as many as 188 JeI properties across the UT of J&K which have either been notified or are under the process of being notified for further legal action. These are a result of an investigation of case FIR number 17 of 2019 U/S 10, 11 & 13 of Police Station Batmaloo being investigated by SIA.”
Subsequently on June 9, 2023 the Indian Express reported that in the last two years, the State Investigation Agency (SIA) and Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) recovered 124 properties allegedly used for funding militant activities in the Union Territory (UT). Of these, 77 belonged to Jamat-e-Islami (JeI). These properties have been established to be either proceeds of terrorism or used in activities aimed at furthering terrorism and secessionism, the report said, quoting an official release.
Earlier on November 10, 2022, authorities in Kashmir sealed nine properties worth Rs 800 crores, including a school building belonging to banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), in Shopian District. The Shopian District Magistrate said in a notification, “To choke the availability of funds for secessionist activities and to dismantle the ecosystem of anti-national elements and terror networks hostile to India’s sovereignty, the properties belonging or held by banned Jamaat-e-Islami J-K in District Shopian of South Kashmir have been notified by District Magistrate Shopian vide notification dated July 7, 2022, followed by administrative order in the exercise of the power conferred by Section 8 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and notification dated February 28, 2019 of Union Ministry of Home Affairs.”
The SIA has identified as many as 188 JeI properties across Jammu and Kashmir which are to be notified during the further course of action to be undertaken, a report pointed out.
On December 21, 2022, on the recommendations of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State Investigation Agency (SIA), Srinagar District Magistrate (DM) ordered the sealing of three properties belonging to banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) in Srinagar in J&K, including a house in the name of late All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC-G) leader Syed Ali Geelani under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The three properties included the two-storied residential structure of Geelani at Barzulla in Srinagar. The other two properties are located in Khushipora Shalateng in Srinagar District in J&K and were acquired in the name of Jamaat District President Bashir Ahmad Lone.
Seizure of Geelani’s property was one among several cases of seizures of properties of Hurriyat leaders.
On June 12, 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached two properties of jailed All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader, namely, Ayaz Akbar, in militant funding case. The attached properties included a house and nine kanals (unit of area) of land on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Ayaz Akbar is accused of collecting funds through illegal channels to promote separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
In yet another case, on July 10, 2019,the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached the property of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) chief Aasiya Andrabi on the city outskirts of under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Andrabi and two of her close confidantes, Nahida Nasreen and Sofi Fahmeeda, were arrested in Soura area of Srinagar the same month in connection with terror funding and other cases. They were shifted to Delhi.
The NIA had said Aasiya Andrabi runs terrorist outfit DeM with the help of her associates Sofi Fehmeeda and Nahida Nasreen. The DeM is proscribed under the First Schedule of the UAPA, 1967.
The list also includes businessman, Zahoor Ahmed Watali, accused in terror funding case.
On June 12, 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached 17 properties belonging to Watali.
The NIA said that 17 properties belonging to Watali in the Handwara area of Kupwara district were attached on the orders of Special NIA Court, Patiala House, under section 33(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Earlier, on March 12, 2019, Watali’s property were seized in Gurgaon by ED in connection with its money laundering probe into allegations of terror funding through Hurriyat leaders. The propertywas worth over Rs one crore.
Subsequently, more properties worth Rs 6.20 crore belonging to Watali and his family members were seized by the ED on November 27, 2019. These properties, the ED has said, are in the form of parcels of land and are situated at Sozeith Goripora village in Budgam district of J&K.
Top Militant Commanders
The list of those whose properties were seized included several militants. They also include Syed Saluhuddin and Mushtaq Latram.
On March 1, 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached the properties of militant outfit Al Umar Mujahideen (AuM) commander, Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram at Gani Mohalla in Nowhatta town of Srinagar.
Al Umar Chief Mushtaq Zargar, who was among three militants released in exchange of passengers of hijacked Indian airlines plane in 1999 by the Vajpayee government. He is presently in Pakistan, in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared Zargar as designated “terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA) 1967 on April 14, 2022.
Subsequently on April 24, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached two properties of the sons of designated terrorist Syed Mohammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahudin, the ‘supreme commander’ of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM).
Earlier on March 19, 2019, 13 properties of other HM associates were attached as part of an ongoing investigation against Salahuddin by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The had attached 13 properties, worth Rs 1.22 crores, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The properties belonged to Mohammad Shafi Shah and six other militants of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM).
Drug Smuggling accused
Though in most cases, the properties of persons linked to terror charges have been attached, few cases have come to light in which properties of those accused of drug smuggling have also been attached.
On June 29, the Jammu and Kashmir Police attached the properties of suspected drug smugglers worth lakhs to eradicate menace of drugs in Baramulla District of Jammu and Kashmir on June 29. Police attached an under-construction house on land measuring 10 marlas at Main Mohalla Pattan belonging to drug smuggling accused, Barakat Ali Main, a resident of Mian Mohalla Pattan. The said house was linked to case First Information Report (FIR) No. 84/2023 u/s 8/22 NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act of Police Station Pattan.
A report pointed out that the step of seizure of properties of drug smugglers were taken after J&K DGP Dilbag Singh’s directions. The DGP passed these orders while chairing a review meeting of Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) here at Police Headquarters. The meeting had also discussed the course of action to uproot the drug menace and narcotic trade from J&K.
Properties Seized in 2019
March 12: ED attached property worth over INR 1 crore of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in Gurgaon for terror funding probe.
March 19: ED attached 13 properties of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists worth INR 1.22 crores.
July 10: NIA attached property of Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi on Srinagar outskirts.
November 18: ED confiscated properties of two HM commanders in Pakistan, in Anantnag District.
November 27: ED seizes properties, worth Rs 6.20 crores, belonging to businessman, Xahoor Watali and his family members.
Properties Seized in 2020
September 19: NIA attached property of Nazir Ahmad Reshi, father of JeM OGW Irshad Ahmad Reshi, in Pulwama District.
Properties Seized in 2021
January 25: JKP attached property of a JeM associate in Pulwama District related to a militant attack on SFs.
Properties Seized in 2022
March 24: Srinagar Police began attaching properties used for militant activities, starting from Srinagar District.
November 10: Kashmir authorities sealed nine properties, including a school of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), in Shopian District.
December 17: J&K authorities attached property of absconding LeT commander Abdul Rashid in Doda District.
December 21: Srinagar DM sealed three properties of banned JeI in Srinagar, including a house of late APHC leader Syed Ali Geelani.
Properties seized in 2023
Jan 9: Attachment of militant Usman Gulzar Wani’s property in Shopian District, J&K.
Feb 25: SIU of JKP attached properties of Abdul Majid Lone, Muhammad Farooq, and Shah Din Padyar in Ramban District, J&K for grenade attack.
Mar 1: NIA attached properties of Al Umar Mujahideen Chief Mushtaq Zargar in Srinagar, J&K.
Mar 3: NIA attached property of HM commander Basit Reshi in Baramulla District, J&K.
Mar 5: NIA attached property of HM terrorist Bashir Ahmed Peer in Kupwara District, J&K.
Mar 17: JKP attached property of OGW Mohammad Abdullah Mir in Handwara, Kupwara District, J&K.
Mar 20 (x2): JKP attached properties of terrorist associates Abdul Majeed Reshi and Mohammad Jamal Malik in Bandipore District, J&K.
Apr 24: NIA attached two properties of sons of Syed Salahudeen, HM ‘supreme commander’.
May 10: NIA attached properties of HM and JeM cadres in J&K including land and houses.
May 29: SIA of JKP sealed 20 shops worth INR 30 million of banned Jamaat-e-Islami in Kupwara District, J&K.
Jun 8: Recovery of 124 properties by SIA and JKP, 77 of which belonged to Jamat-e-Islami, in J&K.
Jun 12 (x2): NIA attached properties of APHC leader Ayaz Akbar and businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali in terror funding cases.
Jun 16: SIU of JKP attached property of HM commander Almas Rizwan Khan in Kupwara District, J&K.
Jun 29: JKP attached properties of suspected drug smugglers in Baramulla District, J&K.
Aug 1: SIU attached property of militant Adul Rashid Qureshi in Kupwara District, J&K.
Aug 24: Police attached property of a hybrid militant in Bandipore District, J&K.
Oct 20: Police attached property of absconding Pakistan-based militant Feroz Ganie in Pulwama District, J&K.