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NIA searches house of Bengaluru researcher, accuses NGOs of ‘secessionist’ activity

The researcher was associated with civil society organisations which criticised the union government’s abrogation of Article 370.

The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday carried out a search and seizure operation in Bengaluru at the residence of an independent researcher. According to sources, Swati Seshadri’s residence was searched and her laptop, phone was seized by the NIA officers.

The search conducted on Wednesday were done simultaneously with raids in 10 locations of Jammu and Kashmir. While nine of them were in Srinagar, one was in Bandipora. 

Swati is associated with civil society organisations which had issued fact-finding reports in 2019 which contradicted and questioned the union government’s stand of (abrogation of) Article 370 relating to Kashmir’s governance and highlighted the state’s excesses, widely reported human rights abuses. She was also part of the civil society committee  ‘Citizens for Democracy’ which questioned the police’s lack of proactiveness and its impact leading to the recent Bengaluru riots. The committee also found that there was not enough evidence to term the violence communal or premeditated and pre-planned.  

NIA said the raids were in connection with a case registered against “certain NGOs and Trusts collecting funds domestically and abroad through so-called donations and business contributions etc. and are then utilizing these funds for secessionist and terrorist activities in J&K”.

The raids in Kashmir included multiple places in Srinagar city of Jammu and Kashmir, including the office of a prominent English daily newspaper as part of its ongoing investigation into the terror funding case.

NIA said a case was registered on October 8 under sections 120B (party to criminal conspiracy), 124 A (sedition) IPC (Indian Penal Code) and sections 17, 18, 22A, 22C, 38, 39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

In a statement the NIA said those whose premises have been searched “include the residence and office of Khurram Parvez (coordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society), his associates —- Parvez Ahmad Bukhari, Parvez Ahmad Matta and Bengaluru-based associate—  Swati Sheshadri; Ms. Parveena Ahanger, Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons ( APDPK) and offices of NGO Athrout and GK Trust.”

The raid in Bengaluru came with already one team of the country’s premiere probe agency camping in the city since it took charge of two cases in connection with the August 11 east Bengaluru riots.

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