A day after an armed man suspected to have made an assassination bid on separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani during a rally was beaten up by a mob, the army said he was actually an official of the military intelligence (MI).
A defence ministry spokesperson on Saturday said the man, Naik Kamlesh Mishra, was sent to the rally in Sopore, around 55 km from here, to gather information on the presence of terrorists in Geelani’s rally on Friday.
“We had received inputs regarding the likely presence of terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba's Sohail alias Akash alias Badar, at the rally,” said Srinagar-based army spokesperson JS Brar.
Geelani’s faction of the Hurriyat Conference alleged it was an attempt to assassinate its leader.
“There are two possibilities why the military man was present among the crowd, either to assassinate Geelani or to create disturbance in the rally by firing in the air. Why should an army jawan come with a pistol to Geelani’s rally?” asked Hurriyat spokesperson Ayaz Akbar.
The police, however, rubbished the Hurriyat claim saying the man was very far from Geelani and was there only to film the rally.
“The MI personnel was filming Geelani’s rally when he was attacked by miscreants. He was just doing his duty,” said Imtiyaz Hussain, SP, Sopore.
Mishra, who had a pistol on him, was nabbed by youth who had gathered for Geelani’s rally at 2:30pm on Friday. He was later rushed to a nearby hospital.
“Mishra has received internal injuries and bruises on face. We contacted local army officers who confirmed that he was an MI personnel. Later, we handed him over to the army,” said Hussain. “The pistol is still with the miscreants.”