Mastermind said to have been identified

A Pakistan-based handler, behind funnelling the digital currency bitcoins into Kashmir to foment militancy and secessionism, has been identified, the State Investigation Agency (SIA) said on Wednesday.

“The Pakistani mastermind has been comprehensively identified. His particulars, however, are being kept confidential because other agents connected with him are not alerted,” a spokesman of the SIA, an investigation set up in J&K on the lines of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), said.

The SIA has launched an investigation to unearth the racket run by the mastermind in Pakistan. “The mastermind with active support of Pakistani intelligence agencies and in connivance with proscribed terrorist organization(s) based in Pakistan has been pumping slush money to their agents in J&K for further distribution among terrorist organisation(s), secessionist(s) for fuelling mass violence and terrorist activities in J&K,” the SIA spokesman said.

Several teams of the SIA on Wednesday searched multiple locations of suspects in Jammu’s Mendhar, and Poonch and Kashmir valley’s Baramulla, Kupwara and Handwara districts.

According to the SIA, the preliminary investigation revealed evidence that the dirty money originating from Pakistan has reached four persons, whose houses were searched. The transfer of money has been layered to prevent backward tracing of its origin, the SIA investigation has revealed.

“While several accounts-in-the-middle that have been used to layer the money are outside J&K, the effective whitewashing of the Pakistani money has taken place through exploitation of loopholes in the international bitcoin trade,” the SIA said.

The SIA claimed it has seized “incriminating material”. “Digital devices, SIM cards, mobile phones and documents, having a bearing on the investigation have been recovered and seized,” the SIA said.

Analysis of the data and questioning of suspects would follow and leads that would emerge would become the basis of further investigation, it added.

The searches were conducted in connection with an FIR No.12/22 under sections 18, 38, 39 of the UAPA, 120-B, 121,121-A of the IPC registered in the Counter Intelligence Police Station in Srinagar. It pertains to terror financing via bitcoin trade.