June 29: Jammu and Kashmir police have claimed to have busted a Lashkar-e-Toiba module that was planning to launch attacks on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), a favourite subject of terror plots foiled by law enforcers.
The purported plot came to light when the police arrested 20 militants — two of them Pakistani nationals who were killed when they came under fire from a “hideout”. The police claim has fuelled allegations of death in custody.
The police said the network has been operating in Srinagar for two years, plotting assassinations and strikes across the country with the premier stock exchange being the prime target. “In a major success, Srinagar police busted the entire Lashkar-e-Toiba network operating in the city,” state police chief Gopal Sharma said.
The arrests followed a raid yesterday on a militant hideout in Astanpora near Srinagar. “This group was planning some high-profile actions in Srinagar, Mumbai and Delhi. They were planning a fidayeen attack on the BSE, besides planning to assassinate important political leaders,” Sharma said.
The group was also scheming to crash an explosives-laden vehicle on VIPs, the police chief added.
The disclosure prompted BSE, which had earlier also figured on such hit lists, to tighten security. A strike squad of Maharashtra reserve police has been stationed on the stock exchange premises.
Along with the revelation of the plot on the stock exchange, came a reminder of last year’s blasts at the Gateway of India. A special court in Mumbai today framed charges against five alleged Lashkar operatives accusing them of engineering the explosions in which 55 people died.
Among the accused is a family, Mohammad Hanif and his wife Fahimida. Their daughter Farheen was discharged as there was no evidence against her.
The Srinagar operation was launched shortly after India and Pakistan pledged to press ahead with discussions to resolve the decades-old dispute over Kashmir and agreed not to allow violence to hurt the peace process.
The Jammu and Kashmir police chief said the arrested group had links with the four persons who were killed in an encounter in Ahmedabad on June 15.