Interrogation of the June 25 Hyderpora attack accused has led to a revelation that one of the terrorists was a local Kashmiri from Pulwama and the duo were out on a “fidayeen’’ (suicide) mission to take on the Indian security forces.
The attack on unarmed Indian army soldiers returning from annual leave left eight dead and 15 grievously injured.
Union home ministry sources said accused Naveedul Islam Wani, Younus Rasheed Sheikh and Bilal Ahmed Lone, arrested by the J-K police on September 20, have identified the two attackers as Irshad Ahmed Ganai of Pulwama and Hamza alias Zeeshan from Pakistan.
The accused told their interrogators that the jihadis had “ritualistically” prepared themselves for fidayeen attack by shaving off their body hair, wearing new clothes, shoes, perfume and kohl. However, the two suicide attackers walked away from Hyderpora spot after firing for nearly nine minutes with no response from Indian security forces.
While Naveedul Islam and Sheikh from Budgam handled the logistics for the attackers, it was Bilal Ahmed Lone from Srinagar who drove the two terrorists in a car for the attack. Apart from Hyderpora, there have been two other incidents of suicide attacks this year in J-K — March 13 attack at CRPF camp at Srinagar and September 26 attack on 16th Army Cavalry unit at Samba.
According to the accused, Hyderpora-bypass as a target was selected by LeT group leader Abu Qasim. They admitted to have conducted video reconnaissance of Srinagar airport and Shergadi police station but Qasim ruled out airport as a target due to heavy security.
On the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Srinagar on June 25, the two fidayeen first decided to attack Shergadi police station but found it to be fortified by forces on the basis of a specific intelligence alert.
It was then that the duo stopped an army vehicle at Hyderpora-bypass and started firing at unarmed troops.
“Three suicide attacks this year indicate definite escalation from Pakistan-based terror groups. But what is more worrying is the involvement of local Kashmiris in a suicide mission. Only two or three Kashmiris have been involved in suicide strikes since terrorism swept the Valley in the 1990s,” said a senior home ministry official.