Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police on Thursday claimed that the conspiracy to kill Rising Kashmir editor Syed Shujaat Bukhari was hatched by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) militants based in Pakistan and executed by its three cadres, including two locals and a Pakistani national, in Srinagar earlier this month.
“We have collected tangible evidence to establish that the conspirators as well as the killers are affiliated with LeT... The conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan,” said inspector general of police (Kashmir range) S.P. Pani at a press conference here.
He added that before targeting Bukhari, a “malicious” campaign was spearheaded against him by the LeT through social media from Pakistan.
Flanked by the members of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted under DIG (Central Kash-mir) V.K. Virdhi to probe the gruesome murder of Bukhari, the IGP said that among the conspirators is Sheikh Sajjad Gul, a resident of Srinagar’s Zainakote area, who is now based in Pakistan. He said the crime was executed by LeT operatives Azad Ahmed Malik alias Dada alias Zaid, Muzaffar Ahmed Bhat and Muhammad Naveed Jutt alias Abu Hanzalla.
Malik is a resident of Arwani village of Bijbehara in southern Anantnag and is active as a LeT militant since December 2016, whereas Muzafar Ahmad Bhat alias Talha is from Sopat village of Qazigund area in the neighbouring Kulgam district, he said.
Naveed Jutt, the third alleged executioner, is a Pakistani national from Sahiwal (Multan). He had on February 6 this year escaped after killing two J&K policemen who were escorting him to a hospital in Srinagar for medical check-up from a city prison and is since known to be active mainly in south Kashmir. He had been arrested by the Army from Kulgam in June 2014 and was lodged in Srinagar’s high security central prison.
The police released photographs of all the four accused during the press conference. It had earlier released a CCTV photograph showing the three motorcycle-borne men which it said were the assailants fleeing from the scene after committing the crime.
50-year-old Bukhari was shot dead by three gunmen in his car outside Rising Kashmir office in Srinagar’s media hub Mushtaq Press Enclave on June 14 evening.
LeT has already denied its involvement in his murder and demanded a probe by an “independent and credible international organisation” or a country which, it said, could be Russia or China.
Mr Pani said that the police SIT has during the investigations come across half-a-dozen posts on social media which carried “malicious” and, at times, “intimidating” pro-paganda against Bukhari.