Terror Friday in which the Valley saw multiple attacks in quick succession was an attempt to scare people from attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first election rally in Kashmir on December 8.
Senior security and intelligence officials said the attacks were aimed at triggering fear and keeping the numbers low. “We are looking at this attack in the context of the prime minister’s visit. As of now all we can reveal is that they were out to create terror in Srinagar,” said AG Mir, inspector general of police, Kashmir range.
Modi’s rally is at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium, the same venue from where Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed 20,000 Kashmiris in 2003. The stadium is less than 10km away from Soura where a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander was killed during a three-hour gun battle.
BJP leaders, including party vice-president Ram Madhav, have been camping in the city to ensure a huge turnout — at least a lakh. Separatist-turned-politician Sajjad Lone, who met Modi before the poll, is likely to help gather crowds for the Monday meet.
The leaders remain optimistic about a sizeable attendance despite the militant attacks. “We are mobilising people. Neither we nor the PM will get scared or deterred by the terrorists,” said Moti Kaul, the party candidate for the Habbakadal seat.
But a police officer said chairs were being brought into the stadium to give a fuller look.
“We have been on full alert and cannot take any chances with the PM’s visit. The terrorists are trying to spread psychological fear,” said director general of police K Rajendra.
The security ring around the stadium and adjoining areas have been further strengthened to preempt any attempt by militants, who may have sneaked in and still hiding in the city, to sabotage the rally. BJP leaders Najma Heptullah and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi have rallies slotted in adjacent constituencies.
Intelligence officials said the attacks were made to synchronise with the two-day Lahore conference of Hafiz Saeed, the 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar founder.
If the militants succeed in their scare strategy, it will be a setback for the BJP which is looking to make a mark for the first time in the Muslim-majority Valley.
(With inputs from Peerzada Ashiq in Srinagar)