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Lashkar' May be, may be not

Ayodhya, July 6: Clothes bearing Nepalese and Korean logos, weapons with Chinese markings, bank notes, a diary ' these are the clues police have to go upon as they struggle to establish the six Ayodhya attackers’ identity.

The militants who got to within 70 metres of the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed site were Kashmiri youths from the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the police believe.

But central intelligence agencies, which despatched investigators to Ayodhya today, are not so sure. New Delhi neither denied nor confirmed the suspicion, triggering speculation that it was not Lashkar but some other organisation, which may or may not be connected to Islamic terrorism.

“Normally, our task is made easier by the claims made by militants within 24 hours of an operation, but this time that has not happened,” said Yashpal Singh, director-general of police, Uttar Pradesh.

Some of the militants’ T-shirts were Korean brands and the sleuths are trying to find out where they had bought them. A few of the shirts, shorts and trousers they wore appear to have been bought in Nepal.

The militants, the police believe, spent some time in Kathmandu before travelling to Uttar Pradesh via Bahraich and Nepalgunj. They might have stayed in Akbarpur for a few days and befriended members of a political party, whose name the investigators wouldn’t reveal.

The police suspect the gang came down to Ayodhya three days before the attack, probably on a reconnaissance, but spent most of their time in Lucknow and Akbarpur. On the day of the attack, they apparently came to Ayodhya from Akbarpur, changing cars at Faizabad.

The militants carried over Rs 50,000 in fresh notes and the police are trying to find out which bank they had drawn it from. A diary with the telephone numbers of several contacts, a few documents and a cache of arms, too, were recovered from their bags.

“Once these contacts’ identities are established, we can tie up several loose ends,” a senior police officer said.

“We have contacted the Jammu and Kashmir police for verification of some points on the possible identity of the attackers,” the state police chief said.

The police have turned to two young men they had arrested in Lucknow in April on suspicion they were Lashkar agents. The 19-year-olds, who carried a map of Ayodhya, are being questioned about yesterday’s attackers.

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