3 held for attack on restaurant owner's son in Srinagar: Police

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Srinagar, Feb 19 (PTI) In a swift operation, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested three persons allegedly owing allegiance to a shadow terror outfit of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba for their involvement in the attack on the son of the owner of a popular eatery here earlier this week, a senior officer said on Friday.

'We have arrested three men who were involved in the attack at Krishna Dhaba in which one civilian was injured,' Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Kashmir zone Vijay Kumar told reporters here.

The arrested accused have been identified as Suhail Ahmad Mir and Owais Manzoor Sofi of Nowgam in Anantnag and Vilayat Aziz Mir of Pulwama.

Aakash Mehra, the son of the owner of Krishna Dhaba located in a high-security area of the city, was shot at from a close range and critically wounded on Wednesday evening.

The Muslim Janbaz Force, a terror outfit which was active in early 1990s, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kumar said that immediately after the attack on Wednesday evening, when the envoys from 24 nations were on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, police teams under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Amit Kumar were formed to probe the case.

Giving details of the incident, he said Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has adopted a new modus operandi of floating new terror organisation and reviving some old ones, chose a soft target to terrorise non-locals 'in its cowardly attempt' to disrupt the ongoing peaceful atmosphere in the valley.

Krishna Dhaba is popular among tourists and locals and the attack was also an attempt to disrupt tourist arrivals which have gone up in the past two months.

Immediately after the attack, the Srinagar police with the help of CCTV footage and technical assistance zeroed in on certain clues and tied up with their Pulwama and Anantnag counterparts.

On the basis of intelligence, many suspected spots were raided by a joint police team of Srinagar and Pulwama which led to the arrest of Vilayat Aziz Mir.

Subsequently, Suhail Ahmad Mir and Owais Manzoor Sofi were arrested. Sofi was charge-sheeted by the police in December 2018 in another terror case, police said.

Police said Vilayat was in contact with Gazi, an active terrorist, and had undergone training under him locally a month ago. He conducted the recce of the Dalgate Durganag area along with other terrorist associates 10 days before the attack.

On the day of the attack, the trio came to Krishna Dhaba on Suhail Ahmad Mir's motorcycle around 7:15 pm and fired indiscriminately at the staff members, critically injuring Aakash Mehra.

Mehra was rushed to the SMHS Hospital, where his condition was stated to be stable.

Kumar said the Pakistan-based terrorist organisations have adopted new strategies by recruiting local youths who are in their teens and allowing them to mix up with family friends and live normally and training them for a day or so.

They are given tasks by their masters and in case they get caught, a public opinion is generated that they were not active militants and that they joined only on the day of the incident, police officials said.

The arrest of the trio, along with recovery of weapon of crime (pistol), grenade, incriminating material and the motorcycle, within hours of the attack is a big success for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, they said. PTI MIJ SKL SMN SMN