With the arrest of two youths in their mid-20s, the Police in Srinagar have cracked a grenade attack that had left two civilians dead and 36 others injured in the evening on Sunday, 6 March. Of the 38 injured, Mohammad Aslam Makhdoomi (70) and Rafiya Nazir (19) had later died at hospital.
Sources associated with the investigation revealed to India Narrative that neither of the two detained youths had a history of involvement with any unlawful, subversive or terrorist activity. As such, they did not figure in the lists of the wanted militants or subversive elements in possession of the Police, security and intelligence agencies. Sources identified the duo as Mohammad Bariq and Fazil Nabi, both 24-25 years of age and both residents of Koolipora, Khanyar, in downtown Srinagar.
According to these sources the detainees disclosed during their preliminary interrogation that they had remained in touch with Shahid Shafi Mir of Khanyar and Zahid Farooq Khan of Nowhatta, both before and after their arrest in the broad daylight assassination of Babar Qadri. Qadri, a television news panellist and an advocate, had been shot dead by two hybrid terrorists at his home in Hawal area of Srinagar on 24 September 2020.
In a chain of raids conducted by the Police, Shahid Shafi Mir and Zahid Farooq Khan, besides Asif Bhat of Rehmania Colony, were arrested on 27-28 September. After weeks of their custody, Srinagar Police produced for remand in a court in December 2020. They reportedly revealed that they had received ‘orders’ of Qadri’s murder from two prisoners — Muneer Aziz War of Hatmulla, Kupwara, and Tawseef Ahmad Shah of Parimpora Srinagar, in the Srinagar Central Jail.
Even as Muneer had been arrested in a murder case and Tawseef in another militancy-related matter, none of the three detained in Qadri’s assassination was a listed militant. According to the Police, only one of them, namely Zahid Farooq, was a listed stone pelter. He had been arrested and detained under Public Safety Act in August 2019. However, he had been subsequently released on bail. Their family members staged a protest while claiming that none of them had any connection with the militants or subversive elements.
Sources in the Srinagar Police said that the two Koolipora Khanyar youths’ sustained interrogation with regard to their liaison with advocate Babar Qadri’s assassins was still underway and they would be subjected to a formal custodial interrogation after remand from a court.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar, Rakesh Balwal, maintained that the three grenade attacks in Lalchowk area of Srinagar on 10 August 2021, 25 January 2022 and 6 March 2022, happened even after the Police had arrested all the listed Over Ground Workers (OGWs) and neutralised all the active militants in the summer capital. “During our discreet investigation, in coordination with sister organisations, we learned that the terror outfits had also created a network of silent operatives and engaged them specifically for pistol and grenade attacks on soft targets”.
“They don’t go into hiding. They don’t expose themselves as the terror operatives. They silently carry out their task and return to their normal activity. We call them white collar terrorists. But we arrest them only after getting incontrovertible documentary and forensic evidence of their involvement in a crime,” SSP Srinagar asserted. He said that the Police had accessed and acquired evidence of the duo’s execution of crime on 6 March.
According to SSP Srinagar, the detained duo reached the spot on a scooty, threw the grenade and escaped on the same bike. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) sifted through CCTV footage of dozens of cameras. Technical evidence, including the tower location of their phones established their presence and grenade throwing and they were traced to Khanyar area. Both were arrested late in the evening on Tuesday.
Meanwhile a press release from the Srinagar District Police said: “In this regard, a case vide FIR No. 18/2022 under relevant sections of law was registered in PS Shaheed Gunj and investigation initiated. Keeping in view the heinous nature of the case, which created terror, panic and anguish among the masses in whole of Srinagar city, SSP Srinagar Shri Rakesh Balwal constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Shri Lakshay Sharma, SP South and SDPO Kothibagh Shri Shabir Ahmed, SDPO Shaheed Gunj Shri Fayaz Hussain, DySP Faizan Ali, DySP (P) Anzar Shah, SHO PS Shaheed Gunj Insp. Gowhar Hussain and Insp. Taseer Ahmed as members.”
“During the course of investigation, using modern means of investigation including analysis of the CCTV footages besides examination of some eye witnesses the investigation team was able to identify two accused who came on a two wheeler without number-plate to commit this crime and fled on the same vehicle after committing the terrorist act.”
“During the intense analysis of the CCTV trail in Srinagar City, the route adopted by both accused was located back to one neighbourhood in Khanyar area. The first accused namely Mohd Bariq son of Mohd Shafi Magray resident of Koolipora, Khanyar was arrested from Khanyar, Srinagar and his initial examination led to arrest to second accused namely Fazil Nabi Sofi son of Ghulam Nabi Sofi resident of Koolipora, Khanyar. The two wheeler used in the commission of terror act has also been recovered and seized.”
“Investigations also revealed that the arrested accused had committed the terrorist act on the directions of active terrorists operating in Kashmir valley. As per their plan, the grenade was to be lobbed on the parked security vehicle but as the grenade was thrown from a moving two-wheeler, they missed the intended target and the grenade exploded in an adjacent crowded area where many road-side vendors and buyers were busy in routine activities.”
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)