Srinagar, March 16: Police today arrested a government sanitary inspector on the charge of sheltering the attackers who killed five CRPF jawans in Srinagar on Wednesday.
But the police did not disclose the alleged motive behind offering a safe house to the militants. The family of the sanitary inspector said he was forced to do so at gunpoint by the militants.
Police sources identified the arrested official as Pradeep Singh from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Singh, who worked in the health department and posted in Tangmarg, was suspended after his arrest.
Sources said the three fidayeen, two of whom disguised themselves as cricketers and were killed in the attack and the third who was arrested later, were sheltered by Singh at a government house in Tangmarg before they travelled to Srinagar for the attack.
The Hizb-ul Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attack though the police believe it was a handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Singh is a father of two girls and his name cropped up when Pakistani militant Zubair alias Riyaz alias Abu Talha and Kashmir Uri resident Bashir Ahmad, two other accused arrested in the case, were questioned.
Zubair was said to be part of the suicide squad but he did not participate in Wednesday’s attack.
Singh is a member of Kashmir’s Sikh community — rarely has any non-Muslim been arrested in militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh is being questioned jointly by the police’s Special Operations Group and other intelligence agencies.
Police sources said Singh was an associate of Bashir, another suspect who allegedly helped the fidayeen enter the Valley last month and later arranged their travel first to Tangmarg on March 11 and then to Srinagar a day later.
Sources said the fidayeen had finalised the attack at Tangmarg, where they stayed for the night.
“The next day (March 12), Bashir took them to Srinagar and were shown the place they had to undertake the attack on March 13,” an official privy to the investigation said.
Bashir was a former militant who had surrendered before security forces and was working with intelligence agencies as an informer. The police are investigating why he switched sides.
Official sources said Singh was being placed under suspension for his alleged role in the militant attack. “He was working on contractual basis in the (health) department,” an official said.
Singh’s family claimed that he had turned himself over to the police after he came to know that they were looking for him.
Narinder Kaur, his mother, said the militants forced him to give shelter to them. “He did it only after they threatened him with dire consequences,” she said.