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Jammu KashmirSarjan Barkati known as ‘Azadi Chacha’, arrested by SIA

Sarjan Barkati known as ‘Azadi Chacha’, arrested by SIA


Srinagar, Aug 29: and 's Police's State Investigation Agency (SIA) on Tuesday arrested Sarjan Ahmad Wagay alias Barkati, the face of 2016 protests in Kashmir, officials said.

They said Barkati was arrested in a case registered in Police station SIA this year.

Officials said the case pertains to Barkati's involvement in allegedly orchestrating an extensive fund-raising campaign through crowd funding, resulting in the generation of funds amounting to crores.

“These funds were subsequently misused, involving money laundering and acquisition of undisclosed assets for propagation of radicalism within the Kashmir valley,” they said.

Barkati, also known as “Azadi Chacha,” gained prominence in 2016 following the neutralization of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by security forces.

Barkati was a central figure in orchestrating large-scale protests, rallies, and clashes with security forces in 2016, for which more than 30 FIRs were registered against him in various police stations of the valley, the SIA said.

The SIA Kashmir revealed that Barkati managed to raise approximately Rs 1.74 crores through crowd funding campaigns.

These funds were ostensibly raised for personal gains and a significant portion of the collected funds was allegedly misused for undisclosed purposes, including possible financing of secessionist and terrorist activities.

“During investigation SIA Kashmir has found that Barkati had not only exploited public sentiment and trust for personal financial gain but also potentially laundered funds from unidentified sources, suspected to have links with terrorist organizations,” they said.

Furthermore, a substantial portion of the acquired funds had been deposited in various Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDRs) under the names of Barkati's family members, raising questions about the legitimacy of the sources and utilization of the funds.

The SIA Kashmir emphasized that Sarjan Barkati's actions amounted to a betrayal of the public's trust, as he allegedly manipulated emotional appeals and crowd funding platforms to further personal and potentially illicit agendas.

The agency said that Barkati's activities not only tarnished the sanctity of crowd funding but also raised serious concerns about the misuse of such resources for promoting separatist-terrorist activities. In 2016 unrest in Kashmir, Barkati, a resident of Zainpora Shopian, had coined and popularized many slogans and he was booked under Public Safety Act for organising anti-government rallies.

He remained in custody for over four years.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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