New Delhi: In the worst-ever terror attack on the Indian Army since militancy erupted in 1989, at least 40 CRPF troopers were killed and several others injured in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the bus they were travelling in.
The Pakistan-based JeM claimed responsibility for the bloodbath and released a video clip of the suicide bomber which it claimed was shot before the young man carried out the audacious attack in Lethpora. The Jaish terrorists has been identified as Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama who joined the outfit in 2018.
“My name is Adil, I joined the Jaish e Mohammad a year ago. After a year’s wait, I have got the chance to do what I joined the Jaish for… By the time this video reaches you, I will be in heaven… this is my last message for the people of Kashmir,” the terrorist can be heard saying in the video.
Apart from the deceased, several others were injured in the terror attack, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron. Body parts could be strewn around the area.
The vehicle was blown up on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora area of the district at around 3:15 pm, a police official said.
The number of personnel travelling back to the Valley was high as there was no movement on the highway for the last two to three days because of bad weather and other administrative reasons. Usually, about 1,000 personnel are part of a convoy but this time it was a total of 2,547 personnel.
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A 12 member team of National Investigation Agency (INA) will go to the blast site on Friday to assist the Jammu and Kashmir Police in forensic evaluation of the spot. An IG rank officer of the NIA will lead the team. The Cabinet Committee on Security will also be meeting at 9:15 am on Thursday to analyse the events of Wednesday and deliberate on the future course of action.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also assured action against the perpetrators. He will be visiting the militancy-hit state to take view of the situation.
Experts of the anti-terror commando force National Security Guard (NSG) and investigators of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are being sent to Jammu and Kashmir to join the probe into the terror attack.
This is the worst single attack in Jammu and Kashmir since a nascent Pakistan-backed separatist campaign began in 1989. It is also the worst attack carried out by militants after the one on the Uri Army camp on September 18, 2016 left 19 soldiers dead — forcing New Delhi to launch ‘surgical strikes’ on terrorist camps in Pakistan.
Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.
The incident is also a grim reminder of the dastardly terror attack at the Army base camp in Uri in Kashmir where 18 jawans were killed. The four Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who carried out the attack were killed after a three-hour gunfight. In a retaliatory action, on September 29, the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on seven terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) as a response to the Uri terror attack earlier that month.
How Attack Was Carried Out
Police sources and other officials said the suicide bomber-driven SUV came along the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus when a 78-vehicle convoy carrying 2,547 security personnel was going from the transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar and rammed it into the bus around 3.15 p.m., triggering a deafening explosion.
The bus that was the focus of the attack belongs to the 76th battalion of the force and had 39 personnel on board, officials said.
CRPF Inspector General (Operations) in the Kashmir Valley Zulfiqar Hasan described it as a “vehicle-bound attack” and said Jammu and Kashmir Police has taken up the investigation.
According to Zee News sources, Ahmad, also know as “Adil Ahmad Gaadi Takranewala” and “Waqas Commando of Gundibagh”, rammed a Scorpio laden with around 200 kg of explosives into one of the vans in the convoy.
He is believed to have been trained by Pakistan’s ISI in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) region recently. He was specifically trained to carry out the attack on the Aemy vehicle, the sources added.
India Slams Pakistan For Providing Safe Haven to Masood Azhar
“The Government of India condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly terrorist attack on our brave security forces in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir earlier today (14 February 2019).
This heinous and despicable act has been perpetrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation proscribed by the United Nations and other countries. This terror group is led by the international terrorist Masood Azhar, who has been given full freedom by Government of Pakistan to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity.
The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard national security. We are equally resolved to fight against the menace of terrorism. We demand that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory and dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries.
We strongly reiterate our appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including JeM Chief Masood Azhar, as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council and to ban terrorist organisations operating from territories controlled by Pakistan.
We express our sincere condolences to the family members of our fearless security personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice.”
Countries like the United States, Russia, Maldives and several neighbouring nations of India also condemned the terror attack and called for global action against terrorism.
Politicos Condemn Dastardly Attack
Condemning the cowardly act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the sacrifice of jawans shall not go in vain.
“Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. Sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the brave martyrs. May the injured recover quickly,” he tweeted.
Expressing grief on the terror attack, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “I’m deeply disturbed by the cowardly attack on a #CRPF convoy in J&K in which 10 of our brave men have been martyred and many others wounded. My condolences to the families of our martyrs. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
Other politicians who condemned the attack and expressed solidarity towards the families of the deceased soldiers in included Union Minister Arun Jaitley, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, PDP supremo Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference chief Omar Abdullah.
Congress Gives it Political Colour, Targets Modi Govt
The Congress accused the Modi government of “failing” to check terrorism emanating from Pakistan and remaining a “mute spectator” to attacks on security personnel.
Terming the attack in Pulwama as an “act of cowardice”, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned the government policy on terrorism and Pakistan, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not compromise on national security.
“In the past 55 months, Pakistan committed more than 5,000 ceasefire violations at the Line of Control and the International Border — a whopping 1000 per cent increase compared to the last 55 months of the UPA,” he said.
“Where is the ’56 inch chest’? Where is the ‘laal aankh’ (red eyes)?” Surjewala asked.