Hurriyat Conference chairperson Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s counsel has told the National Investigation Agency that his client cannot adhere to its summons because of security concerns, The Tribune reported. Aijaz Ahmad Dhar, in a letter to the agency, said his client feared for his security in view of “conditions of hostility”.

Dhar suggested that the investigators interrogate Farooq in Srinagar instead of him travelling to New Delhi. “He is willing to cooperate as he has nothing to hide,” the counsel wrote.

Dhar also said his client is unaware of the subject matter of the FIR in the NIA’s notice and that the allegations appear to have been formed on the basis of “fallacious assumptions and misinformation solely aimed at maligning the Mirwaiz”.

On March 6, the National Investigation Agency had summoned Farooq to New Delhi on Monday for questioning in connection with a terror financing case. Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son Naseem Geelani was also summoned for questioning.

The summons came two weeks after the NIA carried out searches at Farooq’s house. After the searches on February 26, the NIA had said that it recovered a “high-tech internet communication setup” from Farooq’s residence. “Significantly, letter heads of different terrorist organisations as well as documents relating to recommendations for visa for admission in Pakistan Educational Institutions were found,” an agency spokesperson had said, according to the Hindustan Times.

Several leaders and groups including Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association condemned the NIA’s actions. The summons had triggered protests and a shutdown in Srinagar, The Hindu reported.

“Mirwaiz Farooq is not any ordinary separatist leader,” Mufti had tweeted. “He is a religious and spiritual head to Kashmiri Muslims. The NIA summons to him are emblematic of the government of India’s repeated assaults on our religious identity. Jammu and Kashmir is the proverbial sacrificial lamb exploited to divert attention from real issues.”

In 2017, the NIA had arrested Farooq’s spokesperson Shahid-ul-Islam and six separatist leaders in an alleged illegal funding case from across the border. Farooq is the first top ranking separatist to be summoned by the NIA.