June 2018 News

Conspiracy Hatched In Pak, Executed By 3 LeT Militants In Kashmir: Police

28 June 2018
Rising Kashmir
Javid Ahmad

Srinagar: A fortnight after Rising Kashmir founding editor Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated, Police on Thursday revealed that conspiracy to kill him was hatched in Pakistan and executed by three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants in Kashmir who have been identified. The blogger, who ran a slander campaign against Bukhari, has been identified as Shiekh Sajjad Gul alias Ahmad Khalid of HMT area of Srinagar, presently living in Pakistan. 'There was an online malicious campaign, which was intimidating at time. Five to six posts were on the public domain. We have tangible evidence that establishes that the online campaign was done from Pakistan. The evidence provided by service providers reveal that they are from Pakistan and were part of LeT conspiracy,' Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Swayam Prakash Pani told reporters during a press conference. He said blogger Sajad Gul was a LeT operative and currently based in Pakistan, where from he ran a hate campaign against Bukhari on www.kashmirfight.wordpress.com. 'Besides, there were malicious and intimidating posts spread through Facebook account, Kadwa Sach Kashmir and Twitter handle, Ahmad Khalid (ahmadkhalid@313) against Bukhari,' he said. Gul, according to IGP, had gone to Pakistan in March 2017 on a fraudulent passport. 'As per our investigations, he was arrested by Delhi Police in 2003. He was also arrested by J&K Police in 2016 for his involvement in militancy,' Pani said adding police have gone for a lookout notice for his arrest. He said Gul was one of the persons behind creation of blog and malicious content on it. 'We have strong evidence to establish that it was done by Gul,' he said. According to sources, Gul was married to a militant's sister from Srinagar before he fled to Pakistan. Reports said he had pursued MBA from a private institution in Bengaluru and trained as a laboratory technician before moving to Pakistan. On June 14 evening, Bukhari along with two of his two Personal Security Officers (PSOs) Abdul Hamid and Mumtaz Ahmad was killed by unidentified gunmen in a vehicle outside his office in the busy Press Enclave, Srinagar. According to police sources, a group of three assailants had been waiting outside his office and indiscriminately fired at Bukhari and his guards when they had just sat in Bukhari's private SUV and were leaving for home to break the day-long fast. IGP said the three assailants belonged to Lashkar and identified them as Pakistan national Naveed Jhatt, Muzaffar Ahmad alias Talha of Sopat, Qazigund and Azad Ahmad Malik alias Dada of Arwani, Bijbehara. Jhatt had escaped from police custody from SMHS hospital in February this year and is active in south Kashmir. Hours after Shujaat's killing, police had released a CCTV grab of three suspects fleeing on a motorcycle. One of them was wearing a mask, another a helmet while the face of one was covered by another suspect. Asked about the motive behind Bukhari's killing, the IGP said details would be shared with media when charges are framed in the case. 'We will approach the court to obtain a non-bail able warrant against the wanted persons in the case,' he said. The IGP said since Gul was based in Pakistan, Police would issue a lookout notice or seek issuance of Interpol red notice to get his custody. Terming the case as important, the top cop said the investigators would focus on the evidence that has been obtained so far. 'There will also be a situation where the transfer of evidence has to be done through legal mutual assistance treaty. It is a big case in which different places are involved,' he said. The IGP said Police was still investigating the role of Zubair Qayoom of Saderabal, Srinagar, who was arrested by Police after he ran away with a pistol of one of Bukhari's guards and two mobile phones of the victims from the crime scene. Sources said investigators had not found anything substantial against Qayoom for his direct involvement in the assassination. 'He is said to be a victim of drug abuse,' they said. However, he has provided consent to investigators for conducting of his narco-analysis to prove his innocence, they said. Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Police headed by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police central Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdi, is probing Bukhari's killing Sources said revelations so far were based on approximately 30 percent technical evidence and 70 percent circumstantial evidence. The statements of around 10 witnesses comprising both militants and civilians were also part of the Police investigation, they said. The CCTV footage, sources said, was scanned by the investigators to establish the trail and crime sequence. They said the assassins had purportedly stayed in Srinagar for nearly a week and conducted a thorough reconnaissance before carrying out the brutal triple-assassination. 'The next level of investigation will focus to reveal how and who shared the information with the Pakistan-based blogger,' said a Police officer.