By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Indian police accused Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba on Thursday of the murder of a prominent journalist in Kashmir which had heightened tensions in the disputed region.
A senior police official released the names and pictures of four people who he said were involved in the June 14 murder of Syed Shujaat Bukhari. The editor of the Rising Kashmir newspaper had been a strong advocate of peace in the region.
Kashmir has been at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the region and have gone to war over it twice since independence from Britain in 1947.
Kashmir's Inspector General of Police S.P. Pani said one of the gunmen, Sajad Gul, was a Kashmiri based in Pakistan, while the others - Ajaz Ahmad Malik, Muzaffar Ahmad and Naveed Jutt - were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants.
Two gunmen including Jutt, an LeT commander, pulled the trigger, Pani told reporters.
"Investigations revealed that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan," he said.
"There was a series of campaigns used against Shujaat," Pani said, adding that five to six hate messages against Bukhari were circulated on Twitter and Facebook before his killing.
Gul, who obtained a fake passport and left India in March last year, wrote the messages, Pani said.
The LeT, which has been accused of plotting attacks in India, denied any involvement in Bukhari's murder on Wednesday after local media reports, which quoted anonymous sources, said the Pakistan-based organisation was behind the killing.
"This is nothing but a blatant lie," an LeT spokesman said in a statement.
Bukhari was shot dead by three assailants when he was leaving his office in the city centre of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state.
Earlier this month, days after Bukhari's killing, India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party quit the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir and called for federal control over the region, citing a deterioration in security.
(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar; Writing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar; editing by David Stamp)