Security agencies have launched a massive search to hunt down the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Mohammed Ismail alias Abu Ismail — the alleged mastermind of the Amarnath Yatra terror attack that left seven dead and over 30 injured on Monday evening. Proactive operations have been launched, mainly in south Kashmir, to nab Ismail as investigations including communication intercepts have pointed out to his involvement in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, PTI quoted a senior police official as saying.
The police said the suspect is a mid-level Lashkar operative who is known to have been active in south Kashmir for the last one year. They also said the Amarnath attack could be a revenge taken by the terrorist group after the arrest of LeT operative Sandeep Kumar Sharma last week. The police also say that Ismail could be a part of the group that included Sharma and was responsible for killing of six policemen, including SHO Firoz Dar. Ismail, just like Sharma, is also believed to have been involved in ATM robberies. According to them, Ismail may have been involved in the robbery of an ATM in Budgam in which Rs 14 lakh in new currency was whisked away days after demonetisation was announced by PM Modi.
“The terrorists are frustrated at the back-to-back losses suffered by them during counter-insurgency operations over the past month or so and have now resorted to attacking civilians and tourists,” a senior police officer was quoted as saying by PTI. The police, though in the preliminary stage of the investigation, say they have intercepts that point towards Lashkar’s involvement. “As per our preliminary investigation, we have found out that two Pakistanis, accompanied by two local militants, were responsible for the attack. This group belonged to the Lashkar,’’ Inspector General of J&K Police, Kashmir Zone, Muneer Khan said.
Lashkar, meanwhile, has distanced itself from the attack and condemned it strongly. LeT spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi has said, “It is against Islamic teachings.”
The Centre, on the other hand, has refrained from pinning the responsibility on any group or individual because of the lack of independent inputs. They are however keeping a close look at the investigation because if the police investigation turns out to be true, this would be the first time that ‘local support’ was used in the attack against the pilgrims.