The Kashmir Law College principal was allegedly backing Pakistan-based terrorist and separatist groups

Widening its net against Pakistani networks in premier government institutions in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir authorities have initiated action against Dr Sheikh Showkat, principal of Kashmir Law College, a semi-government institution, for his alleged secessionist and terror links.

Earlier, he worked as a former head of the Department of Law in the Central University of Kashmir (CUK).

On Saturday, the college sacked Dr Showkat, who has been seen as a hard-line ideologue of Pakistan backed separatist organizations.

In 2016, he had joined a convention titled -“Azadi: The Only Way” at Press Club of India, New-Delhi along with chief of hardline Hurriyat Conference late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Booker Prize winner author Arundhati Roy. He had reportedly given an anti-India speech at the convention.

During the convention anti-India slogans were also reportedly raised for which Delhi Police had registered an FIR under Sections - 124 A (sedition), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly).

Despite New Delhi’s relentless operations against terror networks in Kashmir in the recent years, Dr Showkat would glamorize militancy, stone-pelting. Pakistan’s notorious spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is once again banking on this academician group to give a new lease of life to terrorism in the Valley.

He was reportedly a trusted advisor of late Geelani and would devise policies to foment unrest in Kashmir in 2008, 2010 and 2016.

“The administration has started a discrete process of ascertaining full details of the antecedents and past activities of Dr Sheikh Showkat. As per assessment he was secretly in touch with elements of secessionist and terrorist networks to assist them in building up and sustain a false narrative that no good can happen until J&K is part of India,” sources said.

He was also working on the agenda of secessionists and their armed wings to provide required support in various forms to give legitimacy to them while being on the payroll of the very state he was desperate to break, they added.

Dr Showkat, who was drawing a pension of Rs over one lakh per month, had received about Rs 5.1 crores as salary and another Rs 3.3 crores as additional allowances under different heads during his service career.

“Competent public authority are actively considering invoking relevant provisions of pension related laws that authorizes the state to forfeit pension when there is credible evidence of acting as a covert ideologue of secessionist and terrorist networks to justify violence and separatist politics projecting it as moral and desirable,” sources said.

However, Dr Showkat is not the only academician or officer, in service or retired - who has been at the forefront of anti-India campaign in Kashmir, but a large number of such influential people exist in premier government institutions like Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, Kashmir University (KU) and the CUK.

“These people, drawing huge salaries and other perks from the government, spit venom against the Indian state without any shame. In universities and colleges, such academics encourage those students only, who have anti-India sentiments,” a senior police officer said. The officer said these academicians distribute jihadi literature to students and are encouraged to read fiction by writers like Naseem Hijazi, an Urdu novelist from Pakistan.

“Most of these academics are indirectly affiliated with religio-political organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ahlehadees (JAH) that are funded by petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

On March 29, a Lashker-e-Taiba terrorist, who was killed in an encounter with security forces, was a pass-out of the CUK, where Dr Showkat teaches.

Prior to that another terrorist, Aadil Farooq Bhat, was arrested along with two hand grenades in city center Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Bhat also is a pass out of the CUK.

“This group of academicians had the blessing of some local police officers, bureaucrats, lawyers and politicians due to which they were calling shots everywhere without being held accountable. However, it is due to the efforts of special DG of J&K police, Rashmi Ranjan Swain that action against people like Dr Showkat has been initiated,” he said.

The officer revealed that a complex auditing process has been devised by the authorities in higher education establishment to assess and quantify the harm such persons have inflicted and to the extent they have impaired the value and normal function of education institutions.

“As this group is in constant contact with anti-India forces outside Kashmir and the country through more secure apps like Telegraph, Whatsapp and other tools, it is difficult to establish cases against them.

However, a process has been initiated and their social media accounts are being scrutinized properly to establish their links with terror networks,” he said, adding the Pakistani spy agency ISI was desperate to utilize its networks in premier government institutions and social media tools to recruit gullible Kashmiri youth for terrorism.

***The writer is a senior J&K journalist; views expressed are his own