Above: Photos released by police of the four LeT cadre allegedly involved in the killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari. (PTI)
There is substantial evidence to prove that the conspiracy to kill journalist Shujaat Bukhari was hatched by Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) in Pakistan and three cadres of the banned outfit including Naveed Jatt (prime suspect) had executed the plan, a top police official said here today.
The murder of veteran journalist Bukhari was plotted in Pakistan by terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jammu & Kashmir police claimed in a press conference on Thursday, PTI reported.
J&K police revealed names of the four LeT operatives, who it alleged plotted and executed the murder of Kashmiri senior journalist Bukhari and two police constables who were provided for his personal security.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir SP Pani said while a Srinagar resident based in Pakistan had started an online campaign against the slain journalist, three Lashkar militants Naveed Jatt, Azad Ahmad Malik and Muzzaffar Ahmad carried out the killing.
Sajjad Gul, Malik, Muzzaffar Ahmad and Naveed Jatt were the four LeT operatives revealed Jammu by police to be behind Bukhari’s murder. The police also released the photos of the 4 suspects.
The first accused, Sajjad Gul, a Kashmiri sneaked into Pakistan in March 2017. “He was earlier arrested by Delhi police and J&K police for various crimes. And then in March 2017, we believe he fled the country for Pakistan,” Pani said. He added that the police had “tangible evidence” that he was behind the social media smear and intimidation campaigns run against Shujaat Bukhari.
The other accused Naveed Jatt, escaped police custody from SMHS hospital in February this year. It was on the basis of some “protected witnesses and evidence”, Pani said, that the police had revealed the names of the four accused.
“Now we have got evidence to confirm the identity of these three individuals as Azad Malik, Muzaffar Ahmad (both residents of south Kashmir) and Naveed Jatt. These three are now wanted by the law,” he said.
Jammu Police was also probing the role of one suspect, Zubair, who was arrested after a video footage showed him picking up the gun of one of the slain constables. The pistol and some mobile phones were found in his possession.
Several reports published on the incidents have claimed that Bukhari, a proponent for peace in the valley, was killed on the orders of Hafiz Saeed (a co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba).
“We are in process of moving the courts to secure non-bailable warrants against the four accused and to seek Interpol Red Corner notice issued for the accused residing in Pakistan,” Pani said.
Bukhari, 48, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, was attacked by three gunmen on a motorcycle while he was in his car outside his office in Srinagar’s press enclave. His two security guards were also killed as bullets were sprayed at them.
Meanwhile, LeT in a statement said, “We would like to call their (Indian Army’s) bluff. If Indian forces are truly convinced that this heinous crime was committed by mujahideen, then they should have no objection to an independent investigation of this murder by a neutral country such as China or Russia,” said LeT chief Mahmood Shah in an email statement to a Kashmir news agency.