Hizbul man held with Davinder to be probed over Pulwama attack
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) plans to interrogate Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Naveed Babu about militant supporters, who may have helped the alleged 2019 Pulwama attack mastermind Mudassir Khan, two officials aware of the matter said on Wednesday.
Babu was arrested on January 11 along with Jammu and Kashmir police officer Davinder Singh while they were on their way to Jammu along with two others. The NIA is probing the case. Babu’s brother, Irfan Shah, was also arrested a week later and handed over to the NIA.
Khan, a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commander, has been named as the Pulwama attack mastermind. He was killed three weeks after the February 2019 attack along with Sajjad Bhat. Bhat’s car was used in the suicide attack that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers dead and brought India and Pakistan on the brink of war.
India on February 26, 2019, launched an airstrike on a JeM camp in Pakistan after the group claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan retaliated a day later and captured an Indian pilot before releasing him days later.
The officials cited above said the NIA has been unable to fully connect the dots in the case due to the killings of key conspirators involved in the Pulwama attack. They include the attacker, Adil Ahmed Dar, who blew himself up.
The agency has collected crucial technical evidence, forensic reports, intelligence assessment and testimonies of several JeM operatives related to the attack.
“We will question Naveed Babu about the others involved in the Pulwama attack. Being a senior commander in the region, we believe he knows most of the operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT], JeM and other outfits. Usually, the outfits based in the [Kashmir] Valley work together and take each other’s help in terms of logistics. In fact, the JeM, the LeT, and the HM have had meetings to decide on their action plan,” said one of the officials cited above.
Babu is believed to be an important link to solving the Pulwama case as he is accused of recruiting several militants since 2017 when he joined the HM, the official added. The NIA officials clarified that Davinder Singh is not under probe in the Pulwama attack case.
The agency in September filed a charge sheet against alleged JeM members Mudassir Khan, Sajjad Ahmed Khan, Tanvir Ahmad Ganie, Bilal Ahmed Mir and Muzzafar Ahmad Bhat arrested in a separate case related to alleged plans to carry out attacks in Delhi. The interrogation of these JeM members did not reveal a lot about the Pulwama attack, said a second official. “We now hope to get crucial leads from both Naveed Babu and his brother on the Pulwama attack.”