Watali’s lawyer, Shariq J Reyaz, sought urgent bail and informed the special judge NIA court, Parveen Singh at Patiala House Courts, that the businessman has been diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer that requires immediate, supervised medical treatment.
SRINAGAR — Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali has been shifted to house arrest from Tihar Jail after he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, official sources said.
Watali was imprisoned in Tihar Jail for allegedly funneling funds from LeT’s Hafiz Saeed into Kashmir to “fuel unrest” in the Valley. He was arrested by NIA in August 2017 and has been in judicial custody since then.
Watali is a resident of Handwara in north Kashmir. He was in the real estate business and had constructed colonies under M/s Trison Farms and Constructions Pvt. Ltd, which has a capital of Rs 40,00,000.
Last month, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti appealed to the Union Government to release Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali on humanitarian grounds, as he was critically ill.
On January 11, Watali’s lawyer, Shariq J Reyaz, sought urgent bail and informed the special judge NIA court, Parveen Singh at Patiala House Courts, that the businessman has been diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer that requires immediate, supervised medical treatment.
On January 16, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) proposed a panel of doctors from AIIMS to assess his illness.
NIA and ED have alleged that Watali was the key conduit between elements in Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists for funding. They have alleged that Watali also received funds through the Pakistan High Commission. The agencies have claimed that funding from Pak High Commission was substantiated through a document seized during searches at the residence of Ghulam Muhammad Bhatt, who worked as the cashier-cum-accountant with Watali.
The law enforcement agencies have alleged that Watali was receiving money from Hafiz Saeed, chief of terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-Ud-Dawa, from ISI, from the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi, and also from a source based in Dubai, which he was “remitting to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir”.
He was first arrested in 1990, from his house in Baghat along with Bilal Lone, Sajad Lone, and Yasin Malik. He spent eight months in Jammu jail.
Watali is believed to have close relations with slain Abdul Gani Lone, whom he accompanied on many foreign trips.
Aaliya Shalla is a trainee staff writer at the Mountain Ink. She is a pass out of Multimedia & Mass Communication from the Govt. Degree College, Baramulla.