J&K Police team in Karnataka to question cyber café owner

Following a threat to avenge Ajmal Kasab’s execution with terror strikes on the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine town of Katra, Jammu and Kashmir police have registered a criminal case, sounded a red alert and beefed up security in Udhampur and Reasi districts.

After detecting that the e-mail threat to a hotel at Katra emanated from Bangalore, a J&K Police team went to Karnataka and started questioning a couple running a cyber café in a posh locality.

Authoritative sources revealed that the manager of Hotel Grand Devi at Katra, 13 km from the Vaishno Devi shrine, informed the police on November 24 that a threat to avenge Kasab’s death had been emailed by an unknown sender.

“We will avenge the execution of Ajmal Kasab. We will teach India a lesson. We will celebrate Deepavali in Katra. The flying birds will be fired. Indians will be targeted. Stop us if you can,” the text of the email, according to informed sources, read. The unknown sender’s email address, they said, was syedanwar@gmail.com.

Officials associated with the investigation said the police registered a case under Sections 505 and 507 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), Section 66 of Information Technology Act, besides Sections 13 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A team of personnel from the executive Police and Cyber Crime Cell, headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police directly under the supervision of SP Katra, was constituted for investigation.

Inspector General of Police Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, told The Hindu that the police team led by an S.P. and comprising investigators and some IT experts from the Cyber Cell, have started questioning the suspects in Bangalore in coordination with the Karnataka Police.

No CCTV cameras

The cyber café had neither maintained any record of customers nor installed CCTV cameras.

“As of now,” the IG said, “the threat appears to be real and we have taken all necessary steps to safeguard Vaishno Devi pilgrims, the shrine and the hotels at Katra.”

“However, we are still trying to determine whether the email had come from a real terror outfit or someone was playing a prank,” Mr. Singh added. The police would crack the mystery “very soon” and arrest the culprits, he said.

“We are also investigating why the threat had been sent to one particular hotel manager. A possibility exists that someone is harassing him out of mischief or personal enmity,” Mr. Singh said. Udhampur police sources told The Hindu that, immediately after the complaint was received, authorities put extra security arrangements in place to protect pilgrims, hotel operators, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board functionaries and others associated with the round-the-year pilgrimage.

The authorities were also planning security for a University and other establishments operated by the Shrine Board that functions independently under the command of Governor, the sources said.

On hit list

Nearly ten million Hindu devotees from all over the country, as also from some foreign countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka visit the shrine annually to pay their obeisance. The shrine, as well as the hilly Katra township in Reasi district, according to police sources, have been high on the terror hit-list ever since the armed insurgency began in 1990. However, no attack has taken place over the two decades.

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