In a major breakthrough, police today said the culprits behind the "terror and intimidation machinery" which led to the killings of a prominent journalist, an advocate and a businessman in Jammu and Kashmir have been arrested during raids at multiple locations in the Union Territory.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the police discovered the culprits secretly working behind a blog site.
He said houses and properties at multiple locations, including Sanat Nagar, Rajbagh and Batpora in Srinagar, Hawal in Pulwama and Poonch and Jammu, belonging to five persons were searched.
Armed with search warrants granted by the competent court of law, police parties carried out searches of the suspect premises and recovered a large number of cell phones, digital storage devices and computing platforms, Vijay Kumar said.
In one house alone, 32 mobile phones, one tablet, two laptops, four hard disk storage devices, seven memory cards and one dongle were seized, he added.
The IGP said five persons were arrested and have been identified as Nazish Yasrab Rehmani and Tabish Akbar Rehmani from Sanat Nagar, Sofi Mohammad Akbar from Rajbagh, Peerzada Raqif Makhdoomi from Batpora Hazratbal and Javed Khalid from Poonch.
Vijay Kumar said the site was being run by "a white collar terrorist syndicate whose task was to prepare a strategic hit list of government officers, journalists, social activists, lawyers and political functionaries".
"They were assessed by the syndicate to be responsible for harming the overarching objectives of furthering and sustaining the Pakistani supported terrorist programme with the eventual aim of secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian union and its eventual annexation with Pakistan," he said.
With the arrest of the kingpins and the discovery of a huge number of digital devices and the analysis of the data therein, it is expected that the ultimate plans behind the murder of journalist Shujat Bukhari, advocate Babar Qadri and businessman Satpal Nischal would come to the fore, the IGP said.
He said the blog site had designed a modus operandi wherein the name of the victim was first published and then profiled giving detailed justification as to how and why he is a legitimate target for the militants and subsequently his actual execution by the ultras.