PDP MLA under scanner over Amarnath attack

A ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MLA has come under scanner for his role in the Amarnath yatra attack after police detained his driver in connection with the case.

According to police sources the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing Amarnath Yatra  attack has arrested a local policeman on suspicion of aiding militants strike the bus on 10 July, killing seven pilgrims.

Claiming a major breakthrough in cracking the case,  the SIT has arrested a policeman and is also questioning a ruling PDP legislator in connection with the case.

“The SIT is questioning a ruling PDP legislator since the arrested policeman, identified as Touseef Ahmad of state security wing, was posted on the legislator’s personal security”, police sources said. The policeman belonging to Pulwama district was picked up on Thursday by the SIT following a phone intercept.

The intercept, according to sources, is based on the policeman’s conversation with a handler of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The state police has said the attack was carried out by the LeT outfit and a Pakistani national, Muhammad Abu Ismail, along with another foreigner and three local militants were involved in the attack.

“The police are trying to ascertain as to who provided the details about the movement of the vehicle during the Yatra”, the sources said.  So far, around 20 persons have been detained for questioning by the police in connection with the investigations into the attack. According to police officials four militants,  two of who are from Pakistan, were involved in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.

Officials said that LeT commander, Abu Ismail, is the mastermind of Monday’s attack and he was assisted by another Pakistani militant and two local militants in carrying out the attack.

According to senior police officials investigating the case, the Gujarat registered bus, which was attacked, had reached at Jammu on July 7 following which it was registered at the Amarnath shrine facilitation centre.

On way from Jammu to Srinagar the bus was part of the regular convoy of the pilgrims and travelled in a security escort upto the base camp of yatris in Baltal.

However, after the pilgrims in the bus paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine on July 8, they had returned back to Srinagar on their own. In Srinagar they stayed for two days as tourists and subsequently on July 10 at  around 4:30 PM they left Srinagar for Katra. However, the vehicle got punctured at a place some nearly 10 km away from Khanabal towards the evening and  after the passengers had a food at a roadside eatery, the pilgrims moved on and came under the attack of militants at Batengoo in Anantang at around 8:17 pm.

Details that have emerged about Ismail are that he is among the “most wanted” Pakistani militants in Kashmir and in his early 20s has carried out ambushes on Army convoys along the Srinagar-Jammu highway. 

A senior police official said that Ismail is wanted in at least three bank robberies in Pulwama and one in Budgam district and has been operating out from South  Kashmir area as well. He is believed to be active in Kashmir after having  crossed over to India two years ago.

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