The National Investigation Agency on Friday registered a preliminary enquiry into the alleged funding of separatist Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan and others in Jammu and Kashmir by Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other Pakistan-based militants, ANI reported. The agency’s team reached Srinagar on Friday to take the investigation forward, ANI reported quoting sources.

Officials said that four separatist leaders – Geelani, Naeem Khan, Gazi Javed Baba and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate — will be questioned in the coming days, Hindustan Times reported. “We suspect the money was distributed in the Valley for various violent activities like stone pelting and torching of schools and government buildings,” an unidentified official told the English daily.

Meanwhile, India Today alleged that Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik assaulted its reporter and broke her phone when he was asked for his reaction to allegations of foreign funding. However, Malik accused the journalist of barging into his bedroom without permission. He has also filed a complaint against her, reported Greater Kashmir.

In August 2016, the agency had summoned Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son Nayeem Zafar Geelani for questioning in its investigation into foreign funds allegedly being used to finance protests in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Hurriyat had claimed that the NIA had earlier “harassed and questioned” party leaders Ayaz Akbar, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai and Syed Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah. It had added that the NIA had been directed to investigate these “fabricated cases” in an attempt to “pressurise the leadership” because authorities have been unable to control the clashes in Kashmir. “These inhuman, immoral and undemocratic tactics will not deter the pro-freedom people from advocating their just cause,” the Hurriyat had said.

On August 19, the NIA had said it would draw a list of Kashmir residents with suspicious banking activities, because it believed that militant groups and their sympathisers were using “hawala channels” to transfer money to finance “terror activities”. Officials had explained that the “handlers” left 1% of the amount transferred to the individuals as commission and withdrew the rest within 48 hours of the transaction.