Amarnath attack: Did LeT deny hand due to global pressure on Pak?
NEW DELHI: Even though central agencies are yet to conclusively link Monday’s attack on Amarnath pilgrims to Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), the latter’s prompt denial of its role is being seen in the context of international pressure on Pakistan to crack down on its top leadership including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed as well as its terror activities.
“A key factor that may have led LeT to disown the Amarnath attack is that civilians, and not security forces, were a target. Hitting innocent civilians obviously draws international condemnation, which could create problems as Pakistan has been told time and again to rein in Saeed and the LeT terror network,” an intelligence officer told TOI on Tuesday.
The possibility is being discussed as Amarnath yatra is far from being sancrosanct for Lashkar and terror groups. The extremist and separatist elements in the Kashmir valley have also seen it as an imposition and it does not fit their narrative of the Valley being the exclusive preserve of one community. The syncretism and accomodative traditions of the Kashmir are in fact seen as an aberration and a “pollution” of the hardline beliefs harboured by Lashkar, Hizbul Mujahideen and their sympathisers.
Global pressure had led Pakistan to place Saeed and other top leaders of Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat under house arrest/detention on January 30. In April, Saeed’s 90-day house arrest was extended for another 90 days until July 30.
Though the J&K police has pointed to LeT’s role, it has only mentioned “unknown gunmen” in its report to the Centre. There is also an assessment that when the ill-fated bus had to stop due to a reported tyre puncture, its occupants may have gone out and got noticed by overground workers (OGWs) linked to the attackers. “It seems these OGWs tipped off the terrorists, who waited for the road opening party to be withdrawn before attacking the bus,” said an officer.
As per J&K government’s report, the attackers hit the bus twice, first near Habba Khatun petrol pump and then 75 yards away. Though the terrorists also fired at a police naka and later at the G/90 battalion camp located at Arwani, no casualties were reported. “The multiple instances of firing, after which terrorists still managed to escape, points to a lapse and complacency on part of the forces,” said the officer.
However, CRPF maintains that the bus was not part of the official convoy that moves under protection and was also not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. “It is not possible to track and regulate movement of all unregistered, private vehicles carrying yatris,” said a CRPF officer.