Lashkar Calls DGP's Press Meet 'a Drama'
11 April 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Pakistan-based Jehadi organisation, Lashkar-e-Toiba, today denied that it had executed the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits on March 23 last at Nadimarg village in Pulwama district. It dismissed the Director General of Police A K Suri's news conference as 'a self- deceiving drama' and claimed that its 'district commander' Zia Mustafa had actually been arrested by Police on March 16-a week before the midnight carnage in Shopian area. Yesterday only, the DGP had produced the detained militant before media and claimed that he had planned and organised the killing of the members of the minority community. A spokesman of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who spoke to EXCELSIOR through a long distance call this evening, said that the DGP, A K Suri, and his District Police chief in Anantnag were 'great liers'. He claimed that Anantnag Police had actually arrested 'district commander' Zia Mustafa alias Abu Ma'az from Anantnag outskirts on March 16 last. During sustained interrogation, the detained militant led Police and forces to a number of hideouts and certain recoveries of weapons were effected in south Kashmir. The spokesman said that, most possibly on the disclosures of the detained militant, security forces killed three Kashmiri militants in an operation at Nowbug in Kulgam area on March 31. According to the anonymous caller, Zia Mustafa alias Abu Ma'az was initially shown a militant arrested on March 16 but later the matters were bungled and he was projected as the 'planner' of Nadimarg massacre. He claimed that on account of the militant's arrest, one constable was promoted to the rank of ASI and three more were promoted to the rank of selection grade constable in another district inspite of the fact that they were not involved in the militant's arrest. The spokesman said that lying about facts was 'an old habit of J&K Police officers'. CNS today claimed to have received a fax from 'divisional commanders' of Lashkar-e-Toiba in which the senior guerrilla commanders have ridiculed the DGP's statement at a news conference in Srinagar on Thursday. Acording to the text, the DGP's statement, holding the Lashkar responsible for the Nadimarg massacre, was 'a plethora of lies'. The Lashkar commanders too have claimed that their 'district commander' had been arrested by Police on March 16- a week before the massacre. The faxed statement has drawn attention to the point that mediapersons were not permitted to converse with the arrested commander. The Lashkar spokesman has alleged in the faxed statement that massacres like that of Nadimarg were 'diabolical acts of Indian agencies to defame Lashkar as a terrorist outfit so as to mount pressure on the group and reduce the level of its strikes'. Asked for his reaction to the Lashkar statement, IGP Kashmir, K Rajendra Kumar, told EXCELSIOR that Zia Mustafa had been arrested on March 30th. He confirmed that the Nowbug (Kulgam) operation, in which three militants were eliminated by Police and Army, was launched on the disclosures of the detained Lashkar militant. IGP said that Police and other agencies had sufficient reasons to believe that Nadimarg was the handiwork of Lashkar-e-Toiba. He revealed that in certain documents seized from Zia Mustafa, it was written that 'there should be cooperation with Kashmiri Pandits' (Kashmiri Panditoon ke saath ta'awun karna). IGP said that it was the first hint that the Police got regarding the outfit's involvement in the massacre. 5 militants killed Meanwhile, informed sources in south Kashmir said that, on the basis of a specific information, Police and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 9th Bn launched a cordon-and-search operation in the foothills of Pirpanjal mountain range in Kulgam area of south Kashmir today. According to the information, a group of 10 militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba was present at a hideout in Dandwarh (Chimmer), 20 Km from Damhal Hanjipora. During the operation, a fierce gunbattle took place between the holed up militants and security forces. Four militants got killed as forces destroyed the hideout. Official sources said that civilians or security forces did not suffer any casualty. Officials who examined the unidentified bodies at Damhal Police Station this evening were sure that all the four slain militants were 'foreigners'. However, at least six militants of the group were still fighting the troops at a nearby spot when reports last came in tonight. Last evening, troops of Rashtria Rifles 28 Bn had shot dead an unidentified militant in an encounter at Bakhipora, in Rafiabad forest area, in Baramulla district. Unidentified killers have kidnapped and later slaughtered an employee of J&K Auxiliary Police, Mohamad Afzal Bhat S-o Mohammad Anwar Bhat, at Kanthpora (Lolab) in Kupwara district. Reports from north Kashmir said that hundreds of people staged a protest against the killing which indicated that informers or security forces were responsible. In Kashmir, there is no tradition of protesting killings suspected to have been done by militants.