According to Hindustan Times, the Geelani faction of the Hurriyat Conference suspended the membership of Jammu Kashmir National Front (JKNF) chairman Nayeem Khan on Saturday, a few days after a sting operation by a Noida-based television channel showed him allegedly admitting to the use of Pakistani funds to finance the 2016 unrest.

Earlier in the day, Khan told reporters that the sting operation was “fake and doctored”. Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, he alleged that the media group had used his statements out of context to “defame the Kashmir struggle”.

“We generate funds at the local level to help victims of the conflict,” Khan added.

Confirming the JKNF chairman’s suspension, a statement issued by Geelani claimed that though the Hurriyat Conference had summoned all its constituent members — including Khan — to hear his side of the story, police did not allow them to hold the executive body meeting. “He (Nayeem Khan) has questioned the veracity of the said clip, but we have decided to suspend his membership until all related issues are clarified. It is my moral duty as the supreme head of the forum to fulfill my assigned duties,” he said.

However, the statement went on to describe the Indian press as a “biased and untrustworthy” entity that is hell-bent on defaming the Kashmir freedom movement. “They are working for Indian agencies... as a mouthpiece for fanatical forces,” it said. “Their frivolous efforts at involving Pakistan is being done to mislead the international community.”

While Geelani admitted that the neighbouring country was a “prime party” in the issue, he insisted that the agitation for a free Kashmir was an “indigenous movement”.

“The 2016 uprising wasn’t preplanned, and it certainly wasn’t instigated by Pakistan,” the statement said. “It was a spontaneous reaction from the people after the martyrdom of (Hizbul) commander Burhan Wani. During the five-month-long agitation, people braved pellets and bullets. Many were massacred, and several others sacrificed their eyesight.”

Claiming that no money is provided by Pakistan, he said, “We do need resources to combat the military might of India, but we raise them from local sources.”

The sting operation, which also featured Tehreek-E-Hurriyat leader Gazi Javed Baba and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (R) chairman Farooq Ahmed Dar, showed Khan saying that all “separatists get funds from Pakistan”. Neither of the three had been in the news in recent times.

Separatist leader Yasin Malik lodged a police complaint against a woman journalist of the media group concerned on Friday, alleging that she “breached his privacy”. “I was sleeping when she barged into my room, asking questions about the sting. I was half-asleep. This is against the ethics of journalism. You don’t barge into people’s bedrooms, telling the family that you have an appointment,’’ the separatist leader said.

Malik was not named in the sting.

An NIA team had arrived in Srinagar the previous day to question top separatist leaders regarding funds received from Pakistani sources, including terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), to fuel the Kashmir unrest. Although sources said four prominent separatist figures – including hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Khan – will be questioned in this regard, a Hurriyat spokesperson said they have “received no notice so far”.