“These funds were misappropriated, involving money laundering and the purchase of undisclosed assets for the promotion of radicalism within the Kashmir valley.”
29 August, Srinagar: Sarjan Ahmad Wagay alias Barkati of South Kashmir has been detained by the State Investigation Agency (SIA), according to authorities. He is accused of organising a significant campaign of crowd financing fundraising to support extremism.
According to a statement from the agency, Barkati was detained in relation to Case FIR No. 02/2023 of the SIA police station. “The lawsuit relates to Barkati’s role in coordinating a significant crowd-funding operation that raised millions of dollars, according to court documents. The abuse of these monies included money laundering and the purchase of undeclared assets for the spread of extremism in the Kashmir valley, the statement stated.
According to the statement, Barkati, also known as “Azadi Chacha,” rose to popularity in 2016 as a result of security forces’ neutralisation of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani. “More than 30 FIRs were registered against Sarjan Barkati in various police stations throughout the valley in 2016 for his role in orchestrating large-scale protests, rallies, and clashes with security forces,” the statement said.
According to SIA Kashmir, Barkati was able to gather around Rs 1.74 crores via crowdfunding efforts. “These funds were ostensibly raised for personal gains, and a significant portion of the collected funds was allegedly misused for undisclosed purposes, including possible financing of secessionist and terrorist activities,” it was stated.
In the course of its inquiry, SIA Kashmir claimed to have discovered that Barkati had not only profited personally on the goodwill and trust of the people, but also possibly laundered money from unnamed sources thought to have ties to terrorist organisations.
Additionally, a significant percentage of the obtained monies had been put in several Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDRs) under the names of Barkati’s family members, the report said. This raised doubts about the reliability of the origins and uses of the funds, it added.
According to the SIA, Sarjan Barkati’s conduct constituted to a violation of the public’s confidence since he allegedly used crowd financing websites and emotional appeals to further personal and maybe illegal ambitions. The agency argued that Barkati’s actions generated severe concerns about the potential exploitation of such resources for encouraging separatist-terrorist acts in addition to tarnishing the reputation of crowd fundraising.