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LeT Militants, Who Killed Shujaat Bukhari, Planning a Deadlier Attack on Amarnath Pilgrims, Say Sources

Lashkar had carried out an attack on a bus of Amarnath pilgrims on the eve of July 10, last year. Eight pilgrims were killed in the attack, which was reportedly masterminded by the then Lashkar chief Abu Ismail.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:July 17, 2018, 8:21 AM IST
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LeT Militants, Who Killed Shujaat Bukhari, Planning a Deadlier Attack on Amarnath Pilgrims, Say Sources
Jammu: A paramilitary security personnel keep vigil as a convoy of Amarnath pilgrims leave, on the outskirts of Jammu on June 27, 2018. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: The presence of Lashkar operatives, suspected to be behind the killing of noted Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari, in South Kashmir to carry out a deadly attack this time against Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and a growing number of valley-based youth travelling to Pakistan to receive arms training, have put security agencies in Kashmir on highest alert.

Three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants who reportedly killed journalist Shujaat Bukhari one month ago, are now planning an attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in South Kashmir, highly placed sources have told News18.

Sources told News18 that Naveed Jutt and Azad Ahmad Malik, who the IGP Kashmir, SP Pani, named as accused in the Shujaat Bukhari murder case in his press conference on June 28, were spotted more than once in South Kashmir along with another unidentified militant.

Intel available with multiple agencies points towards Lashkar’s plan to recruit more people and encourage them to snatch weapons from security forces in order to carry out a bigger, deadlier attack than the one carried out last year.

Most recently, the three were spotted in Mirbazaar, Arwani in Anantnag district in the first week of July.

Sources also told News18 that, in what may be a related chain of events, there has been a spike in the number of weapon snatching incidents, most of which have been reported from South Kashmir, since the cessation of operations, or ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’, ended in June. Over a dozen snatching incidents have been reported since the end of ‘Ramzan ceasefire’, the latest of which was reported from Anantnag on July 13.

To prevent snatching of weapons a circular had recently been issued, asking all armed security force personnel to chain their weapons to their bodies.

"Information available with us is that Jutt and Malik are still together, and are closely working with another associate of their terror group to carry out an attack similar to the one Lashkar carried out last year," said a highly placed source on condition of anonymity.

Another worrying development for the state administration is a growing number of Kashmiri youths who are successfully travelling to Pakistan, receiving training in arms, and returning to the valley to join terror groups.

Sources told News18 that, in what may be a huge lapse in security apparatus, local Kashmiri boys are travelling to Pakistan on Valid Travel Documents (VTD) to attend “short 2 to 4 week courses in arms handling, assembly and firing”.

According to sources, well over 10 such cases have been listed this year alone. The actual number, as investigations continue, could be much higher than this estimate.

“We have been observing a number of instances of Kashmiri boys travelling to Pakistan for arms training. Some of these youths who we have arrested have revealed that a network of Over Ground Workers (OGWs) and imprisoned Foreign Terrorists (FTs) have been facilitating their travel to Pakistan,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Most of this movement is happening through Wagah border and Lashkar is running the entire network, including the training camps, the source added.

Lashkar had carried out an attack on a bus of Amarnath pilgrims on the eve of July 10, last year. Eight pilgrims were killed in the attack, which was reportedly masterminded by the then Lashkar chief Abu Ismail.

He was killed in a gun fight with security forces on September 14, 2017. Two other associates of Ismail, who were also said to be part of the attack, were killed three months later, on December 12.

The attack was highly condemned by everyone in the valley, including the local terror group – Hizbul Mujahideen.

Multiple sources in forces deployed in the valley have described Naveed Jutt as one of the most dangerous militants alive in the valley right now. In a list of most wanted militants recently released by the army, Jutt was placed in the highest, A++ category, along with Zakir Musa and current Lashkar commander Zeenat-ul-Islam.

Naveed Jutt alias Abu Hanzullah, is a Pakistani resident who staged a dramatic escape from Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, where he was brought for medical treatment, on February 6 this year.

Jutt is believed to have arrived in Kashmir valley in 2012 along with Abu Qasim and Abu Dujana. The official records on him state that Jutt is a highly motivated operative who has received training for two years in Pakistan’s Muridke and Mansehra areas and later in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad mountains.


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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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