2 years of Pulwama terror attack: The day when India lost 40 CRPF men

Security personnel carry out the rescue and relief works at the site of suicide bomb attack at Lathepora Awantipora in Pulwama
Security personnel carry out the rescue and relief works at the site of suicide bomb attack at Lathepora Awantipora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, Thursday, February 14, 2019. At least 30 CRPF jawans were killed and dozens other injured when a CRPF convoy was attacked.(PTI)

Sunday Feb 14  marks two years of the Pulwama terror attack when 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed after a suicide bomber rammed an IED-laden vehicle into the security convoy carrying them. The convoy of 78 buses carrying 2,500 CRPF personnel was moving from Jammu towards Srinagar.

The 22-year-old suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar drove a Maruti Eeco through one of the alleyways onto the highway at around 3pm and rammed the explosive-laden car into a bus carrying the CRPF troopers. Within seconds of the crash, the bus was reduced to a mangled heap of metal and 40 troopers were blown up.

The day has been the bloodiest in the Valley’s 30-year-old insurgency period. Provoking grief and anger in the same pulse, the attack led India to carry out strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot 12 days after February 14. The aim was to bomb the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM’s) camp in the dense forests of Balakot, following which India and Pakistan saw tight monitoring of their air space. Simultaneously, India rushed thousands of troops to Kashmir and heightened the security in the Valley.

The Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack after repeated denials from Pakistan. The explosives used in the attack were found to be ammonium nitrate, nitroglycerin and RDX after a forensic investigation. The investigation also confirmed the identity of the suicide bomber through DNA matching with that of his father.

A spokesperson of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the attack, said that by piecing together the remains of the vehicle used by the suicide bomber in the Pulwama terror attack, investigators, with the support of forensic and automobile experts were able to identify the vehicle used for the blast.

“A Maruti Eeco vehicle having Chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 Engine G12BN164140 was sold to Mohammad Jaleel Ahmed Haqqani, a resident of Heaven Colony, Anantnag in the year 2011. It subsequently exchanged hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat, son of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, resident of Bijbehara, district Anantnag, who had acquired the vehicle on February 4. Sajjad was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopian,” the spokesperson said.

In March 2020, NIA had arrested an operative of terror outfit JeM in the first major breakthrough in the Pulwama terror attack case. Last month, the Border Security Force (BSF) and Jammu police on Wednesday detected a 150m long cross-border tunnel at the international border that intelligence agencies believe may have been used by Mohammad Umar Farooq, JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s nephew, to enter India to execute the February 14, 2019, Pulwama terror attack.