ED arrests retired CRPF employee in money laundering case

According to the Enforcement Directorate, the accused was presented before the Court of the Special Judge ACB (CBI-Cases) in Kashmir, Srinagar. The Court has extended ED custody until 13 February 2024.

| Updated: 09 February, 2024 12:40 pm IST
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday apprehended Mohammad Abdullah Shah in Kupwara district

SRINAGAR: The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday apprehended Mohammad Abdullah Shah in the Kupwara district of North Kashmir under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The arrest is linked to a money laundering case wherein individuals associated with terror financing collaborated with Pakistani handler Manzoor Ahmad Shah. He facilitated admissions in MBBS and other courses in Pakistani colleges for students from Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, the accused was presented before the Court of the Special Judge ACB (CBI-Cases) in Kashmir, Srinagar. The Court has extended ED custody until 13 February 2024. Last month, the ED seized properties valued at Rs 5 crore, belonging to various individuals, including Shah.

The Enforcement Directorate commenced an inquiry following an FIR and charge sheet filed by the State Investigation Agency (SIA), citing offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and IPC, 1860. The investigation focused on Mohammad Akbar Bhat, Fatima Shah, Altaf Ahmad Bhat, Qazi Yasir, Syed Khalid Geelani alias Khalid Andrabi, and others. These accused individuals collaborated with Pakistani handlers, facilitating admissions in MBBS and other courses in Pakistani colleges for students from Jammu and Kashmir, charging a substantial fee of around Rs 10-15 lakh per student.

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The funds were deposited into their personal accounts and the bank accounts of Al-Jabar Trust, originally established for charitable objectives. Nevertheless, these accounts were exploited to receive funds from students, funnelling them into terrorist activities within India. This involved actions like distributing money to stone-pelters and providing funds to individuals/terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, following directives from Pakistani handlers like Manzoor Ahmad Shah and Altaf Ahmad Bhat.

On 09 March 2023, the Enforcement Directorate conducted a raid at the residence of Mohd Abdullah Shah, son of Ghulam Ahmad Shah, residing in Sulkoote, Kupwara. A Samsung M20 mobile phone and one SIM card were confiscated during the operation.

Mohammad Abdullah Shah is a retired CRPF employee who was previously apprehended by PS Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) in August 2020 under a case FIR NUMBER 05/2020 U/S 13,17,18, 20A,40 UA(P) Act and 04 PMLA. Additionally, his brother, Manzoor Ahmad Shah, had crossed over to POK in 1990 and has not returned since.

In May 2022, a UAPA court in Srinagar framed charges against a Hurriyat leader and others for allegedly trading Pakistani MBBS seats in Jammu and Kashmir. This decision followed comprehensive arguments presented by the State Investigation Agency (SIA).

Throughout the investigation, witness statements were recorded. Based on the collected evidence, it was revealed that admissions to MBBS and other professional courses in Pakistan were preferentially granted to students closely related to killed terrorists. This preferential treatment was orchestrated through recommendations from Hurriyat members and received by their counterparts in Pakistan. The statement further indicated that these recommendations aimed to provide compensation to the next of kin (NoKs) of slain terrorists, intending to boost morale and sustain the atmosphere of terror in the valley, injecting renewed vigour into the realm of terrorism.

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The investigation revealed that, as part of a larger conspiracy, accused individuals, in collaboration with valley-based consultancies, covertly persuaded parents of aspiring students, particularly those seeking MBBS courses in Pakistan. They falsely assured cost-effectiveness compared to other countries in South Asia or the Middle East. Parents and students, unaware of the scheme, often fell prey to this manipulation. The accused, in collusion with Hurriyat leaders in Pakistan and Kashmir, demanded substantial sums from parents to secure admissions, particularly in MBBS courses.

Additionally, they arranged recommendation letters from Hurriyat leaders and valid travel documents from the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi to facilitate visits for admissions. The accused in Pakistan managed all arrangements for parents and students. As part of a deceptive tactic, students were made to believe that the National Talent Search (NTS) test at the Hurriyat office in Pakistan was a pre-qualifying test leading to admission to professional colleges.

In 2022, the Government of India and MCI have notified that professional Degrees such as MBBS and other technical courses obtained from Pakistan will not be recognised in India.

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