The National Investigation Agency (NIA) faced a significant hurdle in the Pulwama terror attack investigation for the first ten months as key figures, including Masood Azhar‘s nephew Mohammad Umar Farooq, and Pakistani terrorists Kamran Ali and Qari Yasir, were killed in encounters with security forces.
Despite Farooq’s death on March 29, 2019, his mobile phone remained in the possession of the Jammu and Kashmir Police for several months. In December 2019, the NIA received a breakthrough in the case when they gained access to numerous photos, videos, and conversations from Farooq’s mobile phone.
These materials included photos of his journey from Pakistan to India, his associates, and the bomb-making process. His WhatsApp and chat platform conversations with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leadership, including his uncles in Pakistan and other operatives in the Valley, finds NIA by this time.
How Shakir Bashir Magray’s Phone helped
The investigative team, led by Inspector General Anil Shukla, Deputy Inspector General Sonia Narang, and Superintendent of Police Rakesh Balwal, found a picture of a Kashmiri youth named Shakir Bashir Magray in Farooq’s phone.
Magray, a 24-year-old resident of Kakapora in Pulwama, as the individual who conducts reconnaissance for the (CRPF) convoy attack.
NIA arrests him on February 28, with his house found to be used for storing explosives and making the bomb used in the attack.
NIA retrieved a chat in which Farooq discussed the idea of a war between India and Pakistan, which he believed would allow Jaish fighters to infiltrate into India.
Conversations also reveal that Farooq’s uncles in Pakistan are directing him to prepare for a second attack after Pulwama. Although they have to give up on these plans due to international pressure on Pakistan.
NIA finds two bank accounts belonging to Farooq in Pakistan’s Allied Bank Ltd and Meezan Bank, where funds for the Pulwama attack sent. All the conversations and chats related to these bank tranfers are with NIA now.
Selfies, photos, videos, and chats from Farooq’s phone were crucial in establishing Pakistan’s involvement in the terror conspiracy.
During interrogation, Magray disclosed further details of the conspiracy, highlighting Farooq’s central role in planning and directing the attack. Six more individuals involving in providing logistics or shelter to Pakistani terrorists are subsequently under arrest.
In a 13,500-page charge sheet filed in a special NIA court in Jammu, the agency named 19 individuals, including Azhar and Farooq, for planning and executing the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy at the behest of Pakistan.
NIA has gathered extensive digital, forensic, documentary, and oral evidence, which solidly establishes the case for this heinous attack and implicates Pakistan-based entities in terrorist activities in India. The agency plans to send Letter Rogatories (LRs) to Pakistan to seek information on Farooq and the Jaish leadership.