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LeT behind attack on Amarnath yatris, police claim after arresting three ‘conspirators’

Inspector general of police (Kashmir range) Muneer Khan said the trio provided logistic support to four, including three Pakistanis, who carried out the attack that left eight dead.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2017 23:44 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
LeT,Amarnath yatri,Jammu and Kashmir unrest
An injured Amarnath yatri being treated at a hospital after militants opened fire on a bus carrying pilgrims on July 10. (PTI File Picture )

Jammu and Kashmir police on Sunday said the July 10 attack on Amarnath pilgrims was carried out by four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants, including three Pakistanis, and there was a “criminal conspiracy” behind it.

It made the disclosure after arresting the Pakistan-based terror outfit’s three “over-ground workers (OGWs)”, who allegedly provided logistic supports to the four attackers.

Incidentally, the LeT had condemned the attack, saying Islam does not allow violence against any faith.

Inspector general of police (Kashmir range) Muneer Khan told media in Anantnag that apart from three Pakistanis, a Kashmiri militant too was involved in the attack that left eight pilgrims dead and several others injured.

Khan identified the four as Ismail, Maviya, Furqan of Pakistan and Yawar Bashir, a local.

Yawar, according to the police, had joined the outfit in February after snatching a weapon from security forces. Prior to that, he was a student at a religious seminary in Srinagar.

Claiming that police have cracked the case in less than a month, Khan said it was “purely a terrorist attack” aimed at creating fear.

“The militants used code word ‘Bilal’ for a CRPF vehicle and ‘Shaukat’ for the bus carrying the pilgrims,” Khan said, debunking the theory that the civilian vehicle was caught in the cross fire and was not the actual target of the militants.

The police officer claimed the group initially planned the attack on July 9. It wanted to target either a CRPF or a civilian vehicle carrying pilgrims and had code words for both.

But it had to retreat after unsuccessfully waiting at Botengoo in Anantnag as there was no movement of any CRPF or pilgrims’ vehicle “in isolation” in the area that evening.

The following day the civilian bus was attacked after one of the arrested OGWs alerted the militants about the exact time of the movement of the “Shaukat.”

Khan identified three arrested OGWs as Bilal Reshi (a shopkeeper), Aizaj Ahmed Wagey (a medical representative) and Zahoor Ahmed Sheikh (an ad-hoc state road transport corporation driver).

They helped the attackers by providing them a place to stay, two vehicles (a Santro and an Alto) and a motorcycle to do a recce of the area and escape after the attack. They also worked as guides of the militants, the officer added.

The three are now in police remand. Police said they are non-combatant members of the outfit and were part of the conspiracy to attack the vehicle.

Khan said they have already zeroed in on the four actual perpetrators of the attack and will “neutralise” them soon.

He added two other militants who were recently eliminated in an encounter with security forces are also suspects in this attack and their role is being investigated.

First Published: Aug 06, 2017 20:17 IST