Srinagar: On July 7, seven persons, including five tourists from West Bengal, were killed and 37 injured as a string of grenade attacks rocked the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The daring attack in the heart of the city was the sixth such grenade attack in the state since the beginning of the tourist season.
However, with no terrorist group claiming responsibility for the attacks, the question is who is lobbing the grenades?
CNN-IBN finds out that terror groups in Kashmir have adopted a new tactic of using grenade attacks to maximize damage and minimize exposure.
Investigations by security agencies into the July 7 attacks show unemployed youths, orphans and petty criminals are increasingly being deployed by terror outfits to carry out grenade attacks.
Seventeen-year-old Basharat Ahmed Sofi confessed to carrying out the June 24 grenade attack in the crowded Lal Chowk area of Srinagar that killed one person and injured nine. Given below is Sofi’s spot-confession.
Interrogator: What's your name?
Militant: Basharat Ahmed
Interrogator: Full name
Militant: Basharat Ahmed Sofi
Interrogator: Where have you worked?
Militant: In Lal Chowk
Interrogator: In Lal Chowk
Militant: Sir, I lobbed a grenade.
Interrogator: Lobbed a grenade? Where did you lob it?
Militant: In Lal Chowk
Interrogator: What place in Lal Chowk?
Militant: Akhada area.
Interrogator: Akhada area? You lobbed it a day-before-yesterday, on whose behest?
Militant: I don't know his real name but he's called Hilal. He's a commander.
Interrogator: He's a commander. HM commander?
Militant: Yes Sir.
Sofi personifies the new trend of militancy in Srinagar – that of using young boys and girls to spread terror.
Unemployed youth and petty criminals are ready to carry out grenade attacks for amounts ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 1,500, depending on the danger involved.
"They are using small kids they are only paying them very small amounts of money to the extent that they are using ladies and young girls," Commanding Officer, 131 Battalion, CRPF, Sanjiv Sharma says.
What is even more disturbing for security agencies is the fact that Basharat was not a listed militant, nor was he under the scanner for any previous militant activity.
For a jawan guarding this picket in the busy area of Lal Chowk in Srinagar, knowing where the next grenade would come from can save his life and knowing who is throwing it can help him pre-empt the move.
But with this disturbing trend of militants hiring children and women to lob grenades, detection becomes a daunting task for the investigating agencies.