Jammu and Kashmir police said five people were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the arson of a government school in Pattan area of north Kashmir.
Police said that the accused were wanted in many cases of stone pelting.
The government school Tapper Pattan, which was set ablaze on the night of October 26, is one of the 25 schools that were burnt across Kashmir during the ongoing unrest.
Separatist leaders and the government blamed each other for the attacks, but the arrest is the first definitive identification of those behind the arson.
Police said their investigation into the Pattan school incident revealed a conspiracy between Ajaz Ahmad Parra, a medical shop owner, and three others -- Omar Parra alias Omar Kasaie , Shabir Pandit alias Bulbul and Bashir Ahmad Hajam , all residents of Hamray Pattan.
“These people arranged petrol from a petrol pump and later on stored that in plastic bottles and gave the same to Naveed Ahmad alias Naba Tension, Adil Ahmad Parra alias Adil Doda and Usman alias Babloo, all resident of residents of Tapper Pattan who, at around 1.30 am, executed their plan and set the school building on fire,” a police spokesman said.
“These individuals, who are known stone pelters and are wanted in many stone pelting cases, kept some of the petrol bottles in an apple orchard for creating panic in future by burning the vehicles and other government buildings,” the spokesman said.
The police said that the motive behind the act of these “miscreants was to create an atmosphere of fear and to ensure that schools continue to remain closed”.
Life in the Valley has been at a standstill since July 9, a day after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces. Curfew was imposed as protests erupted, lasting till date, leading to more than 80 civilian deaths and thousands being injured.
Schools, among other establishments, have remained closed given the government imposed restrictions and the separatist-called shut downs. However, the government remains adamant about holding the board examinations in mid November, despite protests from students.
Police said that Omer Kasaie, one of the arson conspirators, had also threatened school staff. Following the threats, the staff shifted the school records to a safe location without informing police. Based on information from Kasaie and Doda, police recovered petrol bottles from the apple orchard near Tapper.
Of the seven accused, police arrested everyone except Naveed and Usman. Further investigation is on and a manhunt has been launched to nab the remaining two, the police spokesman said.
Earlier this week, the state high court took cognizance of the attacks on schools and directed police and state officials to ensure these establishments were protected and reopened at the earliest.