No grounds to form opinion that accusations against Watali are true, says Court

Delhi High Court grants bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali

It is an emphatic victory, says Shariq Reyaz, Wattali’s counsel

Srinagar: The Delhi High Court while granting bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali on Thursday in the alleged ‘terror funding’ case has said that ‘there are no reasonable grounds to form an opinion at this stage that the accusations against the appellant under the UAPA are prima facie true’.

The bail puts a huge question mark over the entire case under which many others have been detained and kept in New Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail.

“The court is also not satisfied at this stage that there is prima facie material to show the involvement of the appellant in any criminal conspiracy with the other accused justifying the accusations for the offences under Section 120-B IPC or Section 121, 121-A, 124-A IPC. The duty of the court at this stage is not to weigh the evidence meticulously but to arrive at a finding on the basis of broad possibilities,” the Court said.

“It is an emphatic victory for us. It is not just a normal bail, it has been granted on merit,” Shariq Reyaz, Wattali’s counsel told Free Press Kashmir.

“We cornered the NIA over all the allegations in this case and procured an order holding that no admissible evidence existed against my client Mr. Wattali,” Shariq Reyaz said.

In May, Wattali was to get bail according the family. ASJ Sehrawat however had reserved the order on the bail application of Watali, 65, in the terror funding case after 10 hearings for May 26. But the case was transferred the day before.

“The bail of Mr Zahoor Wattali which was heard and reserved for orders is to be reheard now because of the transfer. We are moving to the High court. The hearing will be on July 17. Till now, we were on track. The Judge had already heard the case for 5 months. Now a different judge will rehear them. It was not a transfer actuated by anyone else but the court. They were restructuring the roster in the lower court,” said Shariq Reyaz, had told Free Press Kashmir.

ALSO READ: Transfer of NIA’s alleged ‘terror funding case’ makes families of detainees feel like they are going in circles

Watali was arrested on August 17, 2017, and was charge-sheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on January 18 along with Pakistan-based Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, seven Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders and others in the case of alleged terror funding in the Kashmir Valley.

They were charge-sheeted under stringent anti-terror laws for “hatching conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage a war against India” to secede Jammu and Kashmir.

The resistance leaders, who were arrested on July 24, 2017, are Altaf Ahmad Shah, Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah.

ALSO READ: Kamran Yousuf’s tryst with NIA and the fat file of Kashmir’s vicious trail

Another, Kashmiri pro-freedom leader, Shabir Shah is also languishing in Tihar jail, Delhi after he was arrested by ED on July 25, 2017.

Two sons of Salahudin, Syed Shahid and Syed Shakeel are also in Tihar jail after they were arrested on same kinds of charges.

After his arrest, Watali had claimed has claimed to have played a key role in getting the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Narendra Modi’s oath ceremony as Prime Minister in 2014.

ALSO READ: Alleged ‘terror funding’ case: Court grants bail to second accused, detailed order to follow

Moreover, while being questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over his alleged role in organising funds for militants and resistance leaders in the Valley, has told investigators that he was part of an effort by the Hurriyat to act as mediator between India and Pakistan during the Kargil war.

The offer, made during the peak of the conflict in 1999, was rejected by Pakistan, he claimed.

ALSO READ: Families of Hurriyat leaders concerned over their deteriorating health conditions in Tihar


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