New Delhi, Feb 12: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday described the Sunjuwan terror attack as the handiwork of Pakistan-based banned terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Sitharaman, who visited the soldiers and civilians injured in the attack, at an Army hospital in Jammu told reporters that JeM chief Masood Azhar sponsored the dastardly attack. Earlier, another Pakistan-based terror group – Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – had claimed the responsibility for the strike.

Six persons, including five soldiers and a civilian, were killed and 10 others, including six women and children, injured in the attack which enfolded before dawn on February 10.

Addressing a press briefing in Jammu, the Defence Minister warned Pakistan for continuously backing terror groups to carry out strikes on the Indian soil. (Also Read:  J&K Terror Attacks: Mehbooba Wants Talks With Pakistan, Farooq Abdullah Says Tough Measures Needed)

“The terrorists belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, sponsored by Azhar Masood residing in Pakistan and deriving support from there in. Giving the evidences to Pakistan will be a continuous process. It will have to be proved over and over again that they are responsible. Pakistan will have to pay for this misadventure,” Sitharaman said. She added that there were specific intelligence inputs to suggest that the attackers were being handled from across the border.

“Intelligence inputs show that terrorists were controlled by their handlers from across border. Evidence being scrutinised by NIA. Pakistan expanding the arch of terror to areas south of Pir Panjal & resorting to ceasefire violations to assist infiltration,” Sitharaman said.

The Defence Minister’s warning to Pakistan came just a few hours after Islamabad denied its hands in Sunjuwan attack and said that New Delhi should refrain from any surgical strike. “It is a well-established pattern that Indian officials begin making irresponsible statements and levelling unfounded allegations, even before a proper investigation in an incident has been initiated,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mehbooba Mufti Calls For Talks With Pakistan

Earlier, speaking in the state Assembly, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for talks with Pakistan to end the bloodshed in the Valley.  She said that dialogue with Pakistan was necessary to end violence in the state. However, Mufti quickly added that she would labelled ‘anti-national’ by TV channels for suggesting talks with Islamabad.

“Dialogue with Pakistan is necessary if we are to end bloodshed (in the state). I know I will be labelled anti-national by news anchors tonight but that doesn’t matter. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering. We have to talk because war is not an option,” the J&K CM said.

On the other hand, former CM Farooq Abdullah said trouble for Pakistan will only rise in the coming if it continues with its anti-India policies.

Jitna aatankwad badhega, utni musibat aayegi, aur unke mulq me jyada musibat aayegi. Waha kuch bhi nahi rahega. Agar yahi surat rahi to Hindustan ki hukumat ko bhi sochna padega ki agla kadam kya hoga (If terrorism continues in such a manner, trouble is only going to rise…it will be more difficult for them. If the situation continues like this…the government must start thinking about its next course of action)” Abdullah said.