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PhD scholar among 6 held in connection with Banihal car blast

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday said six terrorists, including a PhD scholar, have been arrested in connection with the Banihal car blast case.

"We have almost cracked the case completely and six persons so far have been arrested. The failed car attack was orchestrated by terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) under the command of a Pakistan terrorist Munna Bihari," Jammu Inspector General of Police MK Sinha told media here on Monday.

The six persons held so far include Hilal Ahmad Mantoo, Waseem, Umar Shafi, Aqib Shah, Owais Amin, and Shahid Wani, the IGP said.

Mantoo, the PhD scholar who was arrested from Central University Bathinda last week, revealed that Jamiat-e-Talaba is "radicalising youths for Jihad". "The issue of radicalisation of youth has become a major threat to the Valley," Sinha said.

Sinha revealed that two Hizbul modules were involved in fabricating the car bomb. "Two modules of Hizbul Mujahideen, one led by Rayees Khan and Dr Saifullah of Pulwama had together worked to fabricate the car bomb."

"No link was established between the ghastly Pulwama attack and the Banihal attack," Sinha said. "The entire module led by Hizbul chief in the valley, Rayees and Saifullah were involved in the attack along with JeM terrorist Muna Bihari."

The identities of the car owner and the person who masterminded the attack are yet to be ascertained. Also, the source of the gelatin sticks has not been uncovered yet, Sinha said.

The police official said the engine number and chassis number of the vehicle used in the attack were tampered with, adding that police are trying to retrieve the original numbers. The vehicle has been sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), he mentioned.

The IGP said the group involved in the fabrication of the improvised explosive device (IED), procuring gelatin sticks, urea, acids and other material was working under the command of the Pakistani terrorist.

On March 30, an explosion took place in a car near Banihal town of Ramban while CRPF convoy was on the move. "The car caught fire and slight damage was caused in the rear of one of the CRPF vehicles. No injuries were caused to CRPF personnel," read a statement issued by the CRPF.