New Delhi/Srinagar: Pro-Pakistan terror group Hizbul Mujahideen was responsible for the assassination attempt on moderate Hurriyat leader Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi with a sole idea to derail the talks process advocated by the secessionist leader, a probe by J&K police has claimed.
During extensive interrogation of the arrested Jammu and Kashmir Police constables--Abdul Rashid Shigen, Imtiyaz Ahmed Gojri and Manzoor Ahmed Chiloo-- by various security agencies, it has emerged that they carried out the attack on Qureshi at the instruction of Syed Salahuddin, chief of the terror group, official sources said on Wednesday.
68-year-old Qureshi, who played a key role in the secret talks held between the Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-led Hurriyat Conference and the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, was shot at on December four, 2009 in the outskirts of Srinagar city. The constables were arrested in August this year.
During investigation, during which all the three constables were confronted with each other, probe agencies claimed the trio had extensively carried out a reconnaissance of Qureshi`s daily routine before carrying out the attack.
The three arrested persons, who claimed responsibility for a dozen other terror attacks, purportedly told investigators the attack weapon had been provided by Bilal Shera, a close confidante of Hizb Chief, the sources said.
Shera was in close touch with the team and had been passing instructions to them over phone and Internet telephony, the sources said.
The bullet that shattered Qureshi`s skull minutes after he left his local mosque on December four was fired by Gojri from a point-blank range while the other two raised a hue and cry to ensure safe escape in the melee.
This is not the first time that Hizbul Mujahideen has been behind attempts to sabotage peace process in the Valley. Earlier, the terror group had killed Abdul Majid Dar, the terror outfits`s Chief Commander, in 2003 after he refused to follow diktats of Salahuddin.
Significantly, Al-Nasreen, a shadow outfit of Hizbul Mujahideen, had claimed responsibility for killing of Dar and also the attack on Qureshi.
Dar had helped to establish Hizbul Mujahideen along with Qureshi but later seeing the futility of violence, he had initiated a 12-day unilateral ceasefire with the Centre in 2000.
Qureshi later played a key role in brokering the ceasefire, along with Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, who was assassinated in 2002.