THE PAKISTAN-BASED Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist suspected to have masterminded the attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Police I-G, is also believed to have engineered the robbery of an ATM in Budgam days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation on November 8.
The suspect, Mohammed Ismail, alias Abu Ismail, is a mid-level operative of LeT and is known to have been operational in south Kashmir for the last one year, according to police sources.
“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. He identified one of the Pakistanis as Abu Ismail.
Central intelligence agencies, however, are not yet pinning the attack on Ismail, as there is no independent input about him, sources said. Even the state police report on the attack sent to the Union Home Ministry does not mention his name, or that of any other group as being responsible for the attack.
Sources in the security establishment expressed concern over I-G Khan’s remark that Ismail was helped by local militants in targetting the bus. Until now, they said, “local militants” have never participated in an attack on Amarnath pilgrims — even the 2000 attack on a Yatra camp was carried out by foreign militants, they pointed out.
On November 21 last year, a group of unidentified gunmen robbed approximately Rs 14 lakh in new currency from an ATM of Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s Malpora branch in Budgam. Ismail’s name came up as one of the two foreign terrorists who planned the robbery during interrogation of some overground workers of LeT.