Masood Azhar gave directions for Pulwama attack using Pak SIMs: NIA
Jammu: The chief of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, Maulana Masood Azhar, along with his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ammar Alvi, was continuously giving directions and guidance to the Pakistani JeM militants who had infiltrated into India using Pakistani SIM cards, both before and after the 2019 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed, National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in its chargesheet on Tuesday.
The Pakistani SIM cards were even active after the 2019 Pulwama attack.
The NIA chargesheet also alleged that the JeM had initially planned the attack for February 6, 2019, but due to heavy snowfall and closure of the highway, the attack was deferred to February 14. These revelations were made in the 13,800-page chargesheet filed by the NIA in a special NIA court in Jammu on Tuesday against 19 people, including the attack mastermind – the slain Mohammad Umar Farooq, son of IC 814 hijacking conspirator Ibrahim Athar.
A top NIA official related to the probe told IANS: “Azhar and his brothers were in constant touch with Farooq and other Pakistani nationals through Pakistani SIM cards. These SIMs were active even after the Pulwama attack.”
The NIA in its chargesheet also named suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar, his aide Sameer Dar, Shakir Bashir, father-daughter duo of Peer Tariq Ahmed Shah and Insha Jan and, Waiz-ul-Islam, Mohammad Abbas Rather, Bilal Ahmed Kuchhey, Mohammad Iqbal Rather, Ashaq Ahmed Nengroo and Mohammad Ismail alias Saiffudin, a Pakistani national and IED expert.
Besides the suicide bomber, the chargesheet also includes the names of five other accused who were killed by security forces, of which three were Pakistani nationals.
Besides Farooq, the slain Pakistani nationals include Mohammad Kamran, one of the IED experts, who was killed in a brief encounter with Indian security forces in March last year while Qari Ansari was killed in another encounter.
The slain Indian nationals named in the chargesheet are suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar while the others are Sajjad Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Anantnag and Mudasir Ahmad Khan, a resident of Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir.
The chargesheet has been filed in the Jammu court along with the pictures and digital evidence of the Pulwama attack under several sections of the IPC, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Foreigners Act of Jammu & Kashmir.
An NIA spokesperson said: “During investigation it has been revealed that the Pakistan-based JeM leadership consisting of Masood Azhar, Asghar and Alvi were continuously giving directions and guidance to the Pakistani JeM terrorists, who had infiltrated into India, both before and after the attack.”
The official said that they had also planned to carry out another suicide attack which was “averted due to the Balakot airstrikes by the Indian Air Force and due to the killing of the main conspirator Farooq by security forces.”
“Further, due to international pressure, Pakistan lay low,” the official said.
The NIA alleged that during investigation it was revealed that there was a “well-crafted mechanism” by the Pakistani establishment to push militants into Indian territory from the launch pads located in Pakistan’s Shakargarh opposite Samba-Kathua sector in Jammu.
The official further said that the Pulwama attack was a result of a “well-planned criminal conspiracy” hatched by the Pakistan-based leadership of JeM.
“The JeM leaders have been sending their cadres to terrorist training camps of Al-Qaeda-Taliban-JeM and Haqqani-JeM in Afghanistan for receiving training in explosives and other terrorist tactics,” the chargesheet alleged.
The chargesheet said that the main accused Farooq, son of IC 814 hijacking conspirator Ibrahim Athar, also visited Afghanistan for explosives training in 2016-17.
“In lieu of the lives of the 155 passengers, Azhar was released from an Indian prison,” the official said referring to the 1999 hijack of the Indian Airlines jetliner.
The NIA said that Farooq infiltrated into India through the International Border in Jammu-Samba Sector in April, 2018 and took over as JeM commander of Pulwama in J&K.
“Farooq along with his Pakistani compatriots Kamran, Ismail (both IED experts) and Qari Yasir and local associates Sameer and Adil planned and prepared for the attack on security forces using IEDs,” the official said.
He said that Bashir, the father-daughter duo of Peer Tariq Ahmad Shah and Insha Jan, and Bilal Ahmad Kuchey provided all logistics and harboured the JeM militants in their houses.
The NIA official said that in the first week of February 2019, Farooq, Sameer, Adil and Bashir made the IED using RDX, calcium-ammonium nitrate, gelatin sticks and aluminium powder and assembled it in two containers, one weighing around 160 kgs and the second one weighing around 40 kgs.
“The two IED containers were fitted in a Maruti Eeco car and were ready by the morning of February 6, 2019. However, because of heavy snowfall, the National Highway was closed for vehicular movement,” the NIA said in its chargesheet.
“When the national highway reopened on February 14, Bashir drove Adil on the highway. Adil then took charge of the vehicle and drove on further and carried out the suicide attack by ramming the car laden with 200 kgs of high-grade explosives into a bus of the CRPF convoy,” the NIA official said. He said that the chargesheet is the result of painstaking investigation in the last one-and-a-half year.
“A lot of digital, forensic, documentary and oral evidence establishing a fool-proof case against the accused for this dastardly and barbaric attack has been collected,” the official said.