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NIA says close to solving case, finds ‘clear’ Pakistan link in Pulwama attack

The owner of the Maruti Eeco vehicle used in the February 14 attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy that killed 40 troopers has also been identified.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2019 09:39 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NIA,Pakistan,Pulwama
Members of Indian community protested outside the Pakistan consulate in New York on Friday, against Pulwama terror attack. (ANI)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is close to cracking the Pulwama terror attack case, with evidence pointing to an elaborate operation by four or five Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants, including suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar and a local handler, according to people familiar with the developments.

The owner of the Maruti Eeco vehicle used in the February 14 attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy that killed 40 troopers has also been identified, said the people cited above. The vehicle was registered in Kashmir some eight years ago and was being used by the group with the knowledge of the owner, who has gone missing, they added.

NIA investigators, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pakistani footprint in the attack is clearly visible. The bomber’s vehicle was loaded with about 25 kilograms of RDX stored in a container. While it is still being investigated on how the JeM unit behind the attack managed to procure the RDX, investigators believe that the explosives knowhow came from across the border.

Read more| ‘Give proof on Pulwama attack, we will act’: Imran Khan to PM Modi

“We have the full details about the vehicle, which was sighted with the same group at least a couple of times,” said an NIA investigator.

The NIA has found that Dar was “active” with the JeM unit since he went missing last March. The group comprised largely of terrorists from across the border. Adil particularly disliked the CRPF after an alleged attempt by security forces to set Dar’s Kakapora house on fire in end May or June, 2018.

The investigators point to a JeM statement after the June 2, 2018 grenade attacks on the security forces at Fateh Kadal and Badshah Chowk in Srinagar as part of “Operation Badr”. At that time, local news agency GNS quoted a JeM spokesperson as saying that “government forces made a vain and shameful attempt of setting ablaze the house of one of our colleagues Adil Ahmad Dar alias Waqas of Kakapora Gundibagh, Pulwama, during the dead of night”. The spokesman, according to GNS, warned that every army camp in Jammu and Kashmir was a target, and would be burned.

Investigators believe that Dar may have been radicalised by his local Jaish handler after the alleged ransacking of his house, and prepared for the extreme step on instructions from across the border.

Although the NIA declined to reveal the identities of people involved in the attack at this stage, a senior official said that the full details of the case should be known over the next two weeks.

“We have pieces of evidence; the job of joining of dots to unravel the entire conspiracy is on. Someone brought the RDX from across the border, while another person rigged the device. The vehicle was perhaps repainted with someone doing the reconnaissance of the spot and selection of target. We have the full picture of the attack,” the senior official added.

First Published: Feb 25, 2019 06:31 IST