NIA’s probe almost reaches dead end
STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday led the nation in paying tribute to the 40 CRPF personnel martyred in a terror attack in Pulwama a year ago and said India will never forget their martyrdom. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani and Hardeep Puri as well as AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal were among those who remembered those martyred when a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel was attacked on February 14 last year.
Memorial inaugurated in PulwamaLethpora: The 40 CRPF personnel martyred in a terror attack in Pulwama a year ago were honoured on Friday with a memorial at the Lethpora camp of the force in a solemn and emotive ceremony. The memorial is inscribed with the names of all the 40 troopers along with their photographs and the motto of the Central Reserve Police Force — ‘Seva and Nishtha’ (Service and Loyalty).Maharashtra’s Umesh Gopinath, who undertook a 61,000 km journey to meet the families of the 40 families, collected soil from their homes in an urn and presented it to the CRPF during the ceremony.The Lethpora camp is right next to the place where Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Adeel Ahmed Dar drove a jeep laden with explosives into a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Lethpora in Pulwama in the Kashmir Valley.Almost all the conspirators behind the attack last year have since been killed. The last one, Qari Yasir, the self-styled chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group, was killed last month.“We fight with extra vigour during an encounter with terrorists and that is why we were able to eliminate the Jaish-e-Mohammed commanders immediately after the attack on our jawans,” said CRPF Additional Director General Zulfikar Hassan.He laid the wreath for the jawans at the memorial constructed by the CRPF at the training facility.Hassan expressed satisfaction over the ongoing probe by the National Investigation Agency and said no stone has been left unturned to take care of the martyrs’ families.While he refused to spell out the precautions being taken during troop movements following the February 14, 2019 attack, officials in the security establishment said the movement of troops is now done in coordination with other security forces and the Army.There was no movement of security forces convoys on the highway on Friday as there were intelligence inputs that terrorists might carry out symbolic attacks to mark the anniversary of last year’s attack.“We are following standard operating procedures in letter and spirit to ensure that something like last year is not repeated. People have been cooperative in this regard,” a CRPF jawan said.Guarding the very spot where the explosives laden car had blown up the bus carrying the CRPF personnel, he said he had been on duty since daybreak to ensure the function passed off without incident.Since the attack last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs had allowed the CRPF to carry its troops by air to avoid the possibility of any such attack.The process of bullet-proofing of vehicles carrying the troops was expedited and more and more bunker-type vehicles were seen on roads carrying the jawans.
Modi said the slain security personnel were “exceptional individuals” who devoted their lives to serving and protecting the nation. “Tributes to the brave martyrs who lost their lives in the gruesome Pulwama attack last year. They were exceptional individuals who devoted their lives in serving and protecting our nation. India will never forget their martyrdom,” Modi tweeted. Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu also paid rich tributes to the martyrs, observing that the country is indebted to all these who laid down their lives in line of duty and will always remember their valour and sacrifice. He also expressed solidarity with the families of the martyrs.
The Lt Governor said that the CRPF and other Para-military Forces are playing a crucial role in combating terrorism and ensuring safety and security of the people.
Remembering those martyred in the terror strike, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked who benefitted the most from the attack and what was the outcome of the inquiry into it.
“Today as we remember our 40 CRPF martyrs in the #PulwamaAttack, let us ask: 1. Who benefitted the most from the attack? 2. What is the outcome of the inquiry into the attack? 3. Who in the BJP Govt has yet been held accountable for the security lapses that allowed the attack?” he asked on Twitter.
A year ago, Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Adeel Ahmed Dar, driving an explosive-laden car, blew himself next to a convoy of security vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Lethpora in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, martyring 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.
CPI-M leader Mohammed Salim demanded justice and asked how 80 kg of RDX had crossed the international border.
“We don’t need a memorial to remind us of our incompetence. The only thing we need to know is how 80kg of RDX got international borders crossed to the ‘most militarised zone on earth’ & exploded in Pulwama. Justice for Pulwama Attack needs to be done,” Salim said on Twitter.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the country was united in its fight against terrorism.
“Remembering the fallen @crpfindia personnel who were martyred during the dastardly attack in Pulwama(J&K) on this day in 2019. India will never forget their sacrifice. Entire nation stands united against terrorism and we are committed to continue our fight against this menace,” he said.
Union minister Smriti Irani, said she salutes the “brave sons of mother India”.
“On the first anniversary of the dastardly Pulwama terror attack, I join the nation in paying homage to the sacrifice of our soldiers,” said her colleague Hardeep Puri.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal called the personnel martyrs and offered them his “heartfelt homage”.
BJP president J P Nadda also hailed the sacrifice of the CRPF personnel.
“India will always remember their martyrdom. We should all unite to completely end terrorism from its very roots,” he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the probe into the terror strike that left 40 CRPF personnel martyred has virtually reached a dead end with five persons, who were either conspirators or executers of the ghastly attack, being eliminated by security forces in various encounters.
However, the case threw unique challenges for the NIA, the anti-terror probe agency formed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror strikes in 2008, as it there is no solid information about the perpetrators or the mastermind behind the attack.
“It was a blind case for us. There were lot of murmurs but everything needs to be established beyond doubt in the court of law,” a senior official, who is part of the probe, said here.
The first challenge was to establish the owner of the car used by suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar. There was nothing available from the vehicle which carried a cocktail of explosives like Ammonium Nitrate, Nitro Glycerine and RDX, the official said.
But with the help of forensic methods and painstaking investigations, the serial number of the car that was blown into pieces beyond recognition was extracted and within no time the ownership of the vehicle was established — from the first to the last owner.
However, the last owner of the car, Sajjad Bhat of Bijbehara in Anantnag district, had disappeared hours before the February 14 attack and joined Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit. He was subsequently killed in an encounter in June last year.
“While it was clear that the suicide attacker was Adil Ahmed Dar but the same had to be established with evidence. After picking up human remains from various spots, it was sent for DNA profiling.
“The suicide attacker was identified and confirmed by matching the DNA extracted from the meagre car fragments with that of the DNA of his father,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
The role of other conspirators which included Mudasir Ahmed Khan, Qari Mufti Yasser and Kamran came to light but all of them were killed in different encounters with security forces.
Khan was killed on March 10, Kamran on March 29, Sajjad Bhat on June 18 of last year while Qari yasser was shot in an encounter on January 25, this year.
After JeM spokesperson Mohd Hassan in a video claimed that his group was responsible for the attack, it was sent for forensic examination and the Internet Protocol address was traced to a computer based in Pakistan.
The official said that during the investigation, the NIA stumbled upon another case of over ground workers of Jaish-e-Mohammed which was subsequently busted.
“Eight people have been listed in a charge sheet in this case so far,” the official said.
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