A day after the deadly grenade blast outside a mosque at Tahab that left six persons dead and around 60 others wounded, the Army on Saturday said that the alleged grenade thrower has landed in their custody. Brigadier GS Katoch, commander of 70-Infantry Brigade said that the "grenade thrower" was captured by the local residents, who later handed him over to the Army.
The alleged grenade thrower 22-year-old Ghulam Nabbi Mir of Litter village was presented before the mediapersons at the headquarters of 55-RR on Saturday, who identified himself as the "over ground" worker of Hizbul Mujahideen, and admitted his involvement in tossing the grenade on the religious congregation.
Mir is the nephew of Hizb commander, Abdul Rasheed Ganai alias Ashfaq of Wachi village. But he said that a over ground Hizb activist Gulzar Ahmad Mir alias Nikka Mir lured him to carry the grenade attack. "The target of the attack was Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi, chief of Sawt-Ul-Awliya (Voice of Allah's friends). I was paid Rs 1000 to eliminate him", the accused terrorist told Hindustan Times. "I don't know why did they want to kill Dawoodi? Nikka Mir came to me, handed over a grenade and asked me to toss it on Dawoodi", he said when asked why did the terrorist want to kill Dawoodi. He said that he was never a terrorist and had not carried any grenade explosion earlier.
He said that after tossing the grenade some people spotted him and chased him. "They captured me outside the village, and beat me up. They tied my hands with rope and tried to hang me with a tree. Kuch logon ne kaha iss ko marray gaye logon ko dafan karne ke baad phansi denge (Some people suggested to hang me after the burial of the dead persons), he said.
Brigadier Katoch said that when the Army came to know about the capturing of the accused by the local residents, "we persuaded them to hand him over to the Army. They were quite angry and were not ready to hand him over to the police, saying they would punish him (accused) themselves", he said. "But we kept on persuading them and finally at 9.30 pm, they handed him over to us".
The Brigadier said that the interrogation of Ghulam Nabbi Mir revealed that the two Hizbul Mujahideen commanders Rais Ahmad Dar of Panjgam village and Ashfaq Ahmad of Wachi had hatched the conspiracy of killing Dawoodi a week ago. "They (Hizb commanders) assigned the task to Nikka Mir, who gave the grenade and Rs 1000 to the arrested boy". He said that Ghulam Nabbi Mir hired a Sumo Tata taxi from his village Litter and reached Tahab, where he carried the grenade attack.
"Dawoodi Sahab preaches peace. This does not suit terrorists so they wanted to kill him", Katoch said.
Hizbul Mujahideen, however, has denied its involvement in the bloody attack and said that the Hizb did not believe in targeting innocent people. "We have imposed a ban on targeting even security forces in the crowded market to avoid civilian killings. There is no question of carrying grenade attacks outside mosques, temples, shrines and other religious places", Junaid-Ul-Islam, the spokesman of the Hizb said.
Condemning the grenade attack, he said that the boy produced before media persons as the "Hizb man who tossed the grenade" was an innocent person and was inside the mosque when the grenade blast took place. He said that some people, for personal enmity, captured the boy and handed him over to the Army. The Hizb commander alleged that the grenade blast was the handiwork of Indian agencies, who wanted to divide the people of Kashmir on sectarian lines.
Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the hard-line faction of Hurriyat Conference, also questioned the "confessional" statement of the arrested "Hizb man" and said that the confession made under "duress" has no validity. While condemning the grenade attack, Geelani asked people to remain vigilant from "divisive and anti-movement forces".
Meanwhile shops and business establishments remained closed in protest against the blast at Tahab, Pulwama and Anantnag. Protest demonstrations were taken out at Anantnag and Tahab. Several separatist leaders including Democratic Freedom party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah, National Front chairman Naeem Ahmad Khan, JKLF leader Ghulam Rasool on Saturday visited the village where they expressed their solidarity with the residents. Shabir Ahmad Shah visited the bereaved families and shared their grief. Shah later addressed a massive rally in the village.