Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday filed a 13,800-page chargesheet in the Pulwama terror attack in which more than 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in February 2019.
The chargesheet, filed in a special court in Jammu, names Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Moulana Masood Azhar, his two brothers Rouf Asgar and Ammar Alvi, the suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar and 15 others as the accused.
On February 14, 2019, Adil Ahmed Dar alias ‘Waqas Commando’, an alleged JeM cadre, rammed an explosives-laden Maruti Suzuki Eeco into a bus that was in a CRPF convoy at Lethapora in Pulwama district.
The NIA said in the chargesheet that the conspiracy to attack the CRPF convoy was hatched by the JeM leadership in Pakistan and carried out by local militant Adil Dar to project it as an act of home-grown militancy in the Kashmir Valley.
The terror attack was initially probed by the J&K police in partnership with the CRPF, the Army, other security forces and intelligence agencies. However, the case was soon handed over to the NIA for investigation by the Union Home Ministry.
The chargesheet has been filed after the case was registered against the accused under various sections of J&K’s (now defunct) Ranbir Penal Code, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Foreigners Act and J&K Public Property (Prevention of Damages) Act.
The accused are JeM chief Masood Azhar, his two brothers Rouf Asgar and Ammar Alvi — all absconding, local Kashmiris Shakir Bashir, Insha Jan, Peer Tariq Ahmed Shah, Waiz-ul-Islam, Muhammad Abbas Rather, Bilal Ahmed Kuchay and Muhammad Iqbal Rather (all of them arrested) and absconders — Pakistani national Muhammad Ismail and locals Sameer Ahmad Dar and Ashaq Ahmed Nengroo. Besides suicide bomber Adil Dar, the other accused in the case who have been killed since are Pakistani nationals Muhammad Umar Farooq, Muhammad Kamran Ali and Qari Yasir and locals Sajjad Ahmed Bhat and Mudassir Ahmad Khan.
The NIA said the Pulwama attack was the result of “a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of JeM which has been sending their cadres to militant training camps of Al Qaida-Taliban-JeM and Haqqani-JeM in Afghanistan to receive training in explosives and other militant tactics”.
It said that the main accused, Muhammad Umar Farooq, visited Afghanistan for explosives training in 2016-17. “He infiltrated into India through the International Border in Jammu-Samba sector in April 2018 and then took over as JeM commander for Pulwama,” the chergesheet claimed.
It said that Farooq along with his Pakistani compatriots Kamran, Ismail alias Saifullah and Qari Yasir and local associates Sameer Dar and Adil Dar planned and prepared for the attack using IEDs.
It said that the accused Shakir Bashir, Insha Jan, Peer Tariq and Kuchay provided logistics support and harboured the JeM militants in their houses. “From December 2018 onwards, Shakir Bashir started doing reconnaissance of the movement and deployment of security forces along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, whereas Mudassir arranged gelatin sticks and handed them over to Shakir. RDX was brought by the Pakistani militants who infiltrated into India. Shakir collected the explosive material, i.e. RDX, gelatin sticks, aluminum powder and calcium-ammonium nitrate and stocked these at his house for making the IED”.
The chargesheet further said that in January last year Sajjad Bhat purchased a Maruti Eeco car for the purpose of carrying out the IED attack. “The car was kept in the front-yard of Shakir Bashir’s house. Waiz-ul-Islam ordered 4 kg of aluminium powder from his Amazon account on the directions of accused Ismail alias Saifullah and gave the same to him,” it said.
According to the chargesheet, towards the end of January last year, Farooq, Sameer and Adil Dar made a propaganda video of the planned attack at Insha’s house which was released immediately after the bombing. “In the first week of February, Farooq, Sameer, Adil and Shakir made the IED using RDX, calcium-ammonium nitrate, gelatin sticks and aluminium powder and assembled it in two containers, one weighing around 160 kg and the other around 40 kg. The two IED containers were then fitted in Maruti Eeco and were ready to use these by the morning of 6th February. However, because of heavy snowfall, the National Highway got closed for vehicular movement”.
The chargesheet said that on the fateful day (February 14), as the highway had opened for vehicular traffic, Shakir drove Adil on to it after which the latter took charge of the Maruti Eeco and drove it further on to the highway and carried out the suicide attack by ramming the vehicle laden with 200 kg of high-grade explosives into a bus of the CRPF convoy, resulting in the death of 40 jawans and causing damage to the tune of Rs 32,90,719 to public property.
“The investigation has revealed that the Pakistan-based JeM leadership consisting of Masood Azhar, Rouf Asgar and Ammar Alvi alias Chacha alias Chota Masood were continuously giving directions and guidance to the Pakistani JeM militants (who had infiltrated into India) both before and after the attack,” the NIA said.
It also claimed that the JeM leadership had also planned to carry out another suicide attack which, however, got averted due to Balakot strikes and the killing of main conspirator Umar Farooq by the security forces. “Further, due to international pressure, Pakistan lay low,” it asserted.
“Investigation also revealed a well-crafted mechanism by Pakistani establishment to push militants into the Indian territory from the launch pads located in Shakargarh (Pakistan) opposite Samba-Kathua Sector in Jammu,” the NIA said.