LeT behind Amarnath yatra attack, 3 arrested: Police

Arrested persons have revealed everything, says IGP Khan

KHALID GUL
Srinagar, Publish Date: Aug 6 2017 11:33PM | Updated Date: Aug 6 2017 11:33PM
LeT behind Amarnath yatra attack, 3 arrested: PoliceFile Photo

Police on Sunday said militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba had carried out the attack on Amarnath yatra bus in Anantnag last month and claimed to have arrested three persons for “providing logistic support and acting as guides” for four militants who executed the “plan”.

A bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims was attacked in Batengoo area of Anantnag on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on July 10, leading to killing of eight pilgrims and injuries to around 20 others.

Addressing a press conference here, Kashmir range inspector general of police Munir Ahmad Khan said: “Considering the sensitivity of the case, a special investigation team (SIT) headed by deputy inspector general (south Kashmir range) SP Pani and senior superintendent of police Anantnag Altaf Khan was formed to get to the roots of the case. Our aim was to find who was involved, how it happened and also to get to the crux of the criminal conspiracy.”

He said soon after the attack, police had issued a statement that LeT was involved in the attack and the attackers have been identified.  “Today when the investigations stand completed, we stick to our statement that LeT was involved and all accused have been identified.”

Khan said besides killing armed militants, a biggest challenge was to find out how the attack happened.

“Three accused persons who were arrested have revealed everything,” he said.

He said the accused were “instrumental in providing logistics, acting guides to the militants and also planning the attack.”

He identified the three accused as Bilal Ahmad Reshi, a shopkeeper from Iqbal Mohala in Bijbehara town; Ajaz Ahmad Wagay, a medical representative of Poshkeeri Srigufwara Bijbehara and Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh, an ad-hoc SRTC driver of Khudwani, Kulgam.

Bilal’s elder brother Adil, a Hizb militant, was killed by government forces along with his two associates Masood and Aabid in Awoora village of Pahalgam earlier this year.

The IGP while revealing the modus-operandi of the attack said: “The conspiracy was hatched by militants with active support of arrested persons by way of transporting militants through vehicles, two Santro cars and a motorcycle. The accused also provided shelter to militants, acted as guides and carried out recce of possible places of attack.”

Khan said the investigations conducted have established that the trio in association with four armed militants, three among them foreigners, carried out the attack. He identified the armed militants as Abu Ismail alias Haroon; Maaviya; Furqan and a local Yawar Bashir alias Ayan of Hablish village of Devsar, Kulgam.

Yawar, he said, was a student at a religious seminary Darul-Uloom Bilaliya in Srinagar before he joined the LeT on February 1 this year.

“He Yawar) later (on February 4) looted a weapon from a policeman at Hazratbal Srinagar,” the IGP claimed.

The police also released the pictures of Abu Ismail and Yawar.

Khan said they are establishing involvement of two militants Showkat Lohar of Arwani Bijbehara and Mudasir Hajam of Denveth Kokernag who were killed in a “chance encounter” at Brakpora, Anantnag last month.  

About those who carried out the attack, the IGP said “we are near to them and will eliminate them soon.”

He revealed that the attack was initially planned for July 9 and the militants had decided to target either paramilitary forces vehicle or a yatra bus moving in isolation.

“It was to be either of the two vehicles moving in isolation—yatra or CRPF. On July 9 there was no movement of either of the two, hence they had to retreat. However, the very next day, one of the arrested persons Ajaz informed the militants that a yatra vehicle which had a breakdown at Bijbehara for quite some time was coming and once it reached Batengoo, the militants targeted it,” IGP said.

“Had a CRPF vehicle been at its place, the attack would was imminent on it. It was yatra vehicle that became the target,” he said.

Khan also said that militants had kept code word Showkat for yatra vehicle and ‘Bilal’ for CRPF vehicle.

Asked about the motive of the attack, the IGP said: “It was purely an act of terror meant to create scare.”

He said the arrested persons have been produced before a court and are on police remand.

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