SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir police on Sunday said it has cracked the July 10 militant attack on Amarnath yatris in which eight yatris were killed and over a dozen injured. It blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba for the attack and said four militants including three Pakistanis led by Abu Ismail were involved in the attack and three locals, who provided logistic support to militants in carrying out the attack on yatris have been arrested.
“The investigation into July 10 Amarnath yatri attack has revealed that LeT was behind the attack. A group of four militants including three Pakistanis and a Kashmiri led by LeT commander Abu Ismail carried out the attack. The three locals provided logistic support to the militants in carrying out the attack and they have been arrested,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Muneer Khan, told reporters at police headquarters in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district today.
Eight yatris were killed and over a dozen injured in militant attack on yatra vehicle at Botengoo on July 10.
IGP said during investigation it was revealed Abu Ismail alias Haroon, Maaviya and Furqan, all Pakistani militants and a local militant Yawar Bashir alias Ayan carried out the attack on yatri vehicle on July 10. “The yatri vehicle had a breakdown near Bijbehara and was there for quite some time. When it reached near Botengoo, it was attacked by the militants”.
He said the militants had initially planned to carry out the attack on July 9. “However, on that day there was no movement of CRPF or yatri vehicle in isolation in the Botengoo area”.
The IGP said the militants were provided logistic and other support by three locals Bilal Ahmad Reshi (Shopkeeper), Aijaz Ahmad Wagay (Medical Representative) and Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh (Adhoc SRTC Driver).
“The trio transported the militants through vehicles, provided shelter to them, and actively carried out reconnaissance of places for attack,” he said.
He said the trio was arrested and during questioning they revealed everything about the modus operandi of the attack. “It would not be right to call the arrested persons as Over Ground Workers (OGWs) since they were rather Militants Without Weapons (MWP).
“The three accused were produced before court and are currently under police remand,” the IGP said adding they had set code word 'Shaukat' for yatri vehicle and 'Bilal' for CRPF vehicle.
He said during the investigation tangible material evidence has been collected for establishing the complicity of the arrested persons in the crime.
“It was purely a planned militant act,” he asserted.
One the arrest person Bilal's elder brother Adil, who was an alleged Lashker-e-Taiba militant, was killed by security forces earlier this year.
After the militant attack on yatris, police had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) south Kashmir, S P Pani to probe the attack on the Amarnath pilgrims.
Pani, who had a stint in NIA, and his team managed to crack the case in less than a month.
IGP also released pictures of Abu Ismail and Yawar.
“We are quite near to the militants involved in the attack. Hopefully we will be neutralisting them soon. It can be today or tomorrow,” he said.
According to IGP , Yawar had joined LeT on February 1 this year.
“Before that he was a student of religious seminary Darul-Uloom Bilaliya, Srinagar. He looted weapon from police personnel on February 4 at Hazratbal, Srinagar and joined militant ranks,” he said.
Khan said police is investigating whether two LeT militants killed recently in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir were also involved in the yatri attack.