Indian police have apprehended a Muslim cleric and a businessman for their involvement in a ‘hawala’ (illegal money transfer) racket that originated in Kuwait.
The cleric, Nurul Islam, is principal of the Jamia Islamia Salafia Arabic College in Barpeta, the Indian state of Assam, while the businessman, Aaron Sarf is a resident of Guwahati, the state capital. Police arrested the cleric in a raid on the college premises where they discovered and confiscated around rupees 845,000 from the principal.
According to Barpeta’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Robin Kumar. “During interrogation Nurul Islam admitted that the money came through a transfer from Kuwait.” Barpeta police also arrested the businessman from his residence after he admitted to facilitating the so-called ‘hawala’ deal.
Hawala is a term across south-east Asia to denote the illegal transfer of money across borders through a clandestine network of middle-men and couriers working in different countries. A sender living abroad pays the transaction amount in foreign currency to the local hawala dealer in that country, who then facilities for its delivery in the recipient’s country in local currency for a fixed commission. The system has in the past been implicated for funding a whole host of illegal activities including terrorism.
Police pointed out that since December 2018 the cleric had made three separate deposits for a total of rupees 2,800,000 in the university’s banking account “The defendant was not able to tell us where the money came from and the nature of its expenditure,” said the SP.
The police have not ruled out that Nurul Islam was spending the illegally obtained money on what he called “anti-social activities,” adding that investigations were continuing in this regard.