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Bhat case: Cops search for hawala operator

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | May 13, 2003 10:41 IST

Delhi Police is searching for a hawala operator who allegedly supplied money to Gulam Mohiuddin Bhat, editor of Kashmir Press Service, booked on Monday under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Bhat was arrested on Saturday with Rs 650,000, a Chinese pistol and a wristwatch that had a hidden camera.

A senior police official told that the hawala operator is hiding 'in and around' Delhi and searches are being carried out on various location in the city and its outskirts.

The official, however, refused to disclose the identity of the hawala operator saying it will hamper their search operations.

"We know the modus operandi. Once he (Bhat) reached Delhi, the accused would ring up the hawala operator from various places and fix up his appointment. In most cases these phone calls would be made from public booths to avoid detection," he added.

The official said information technology experts of the Delhi Police are in the process of analysing the seized floppies and the hard disk.

A top police official also said that Bhat was a close associate of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and often acted as its spokesman in Jammu and Kashmir. He added that Bhat used to threaten and intimidate journalists who would write against terrorism.

Senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Police also admit that Bhat was a spokesman of the militant outfit.

Inspector General of Police K Rajenderan told "Sir, I can tell you that he was the chief spokesperson of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in Srinagar and used to be present at all the important functions as a member of the press."

Bhat is the second journalist to be arrested and booked by the Delhi Police under POTA. Last year Iftikar Geelani, bureau chief of Kashmir Times, was arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act. But the case against him was withdrawn after the defence ministry made a statement before the court that the documents seized from him were not classified.

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