Pulwama’s 60 kg car bomb seized by cops could be Lashkar-Jaish joint op
A car packed with 60 kg explosives was intercepted in a late night operation by a joint team of security forces in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, averting what could have been a repeat of the 2019 suicide bombing of a CRPF bus that killed 40 soldiers more than a year ago.
The explosives were later detonated by the Jammu and Kashmir police on an isolated stretch since it was considered too risky to defuse the car bomb. In a video released by Jammu and Kashmir Police, the car is seen turning into a huge ball of fire before enveloping the area in thick smoke.
“This is such great work. Imagine if this had led to loss of lives. Just grateful this is not mixed in with human ash,” said Kashmir police officer Rayees Mohammad Bhat, who also tweeted a 9-second video of what he described as the “ashfall” from the explosion.
Jammu and Kashmir police officers who examined the car bomb before it was detonated suspect Waleed Bhai, a notorious bomb maker of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group, had put together the car bomb.
But the car bomb, a senior police officer told Hindustan Times, also exemplifies that the line between terror groups was only notional since they were working closely and were increasingly moved from one group of another.
“This is purely a Jaish and Lashkar joint operation. But the (terror) factory is located in Pakistan, whether it produces terrorists of Hizbul, Jaish or the TRF (The Resistance Front,” Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh told Hindustan Times.
The initial intelligence input that led to an overnight operation in Pulwama was that a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was driving the car. The input didn’t indicate which route he would take. “So joint teams of the J&K police, CRPF and Army mapped all the possible routes and set up checkpoints,” a Jammu and Kashmir police officer said.
When the car suspected to be carrying the bomb was spotted at Ayekhand, the security forces - who had positioned themselves away from the road - started firing at the car. The terrorist drove for a bit before stopping the car and escaping in the jungle.
The explosives were being carried in a drum on the rear seat of the Santro car which had a fake registration plate. “Possibly more explosives could be fitted elsewhere in the vehicle,” a police officer said.
Security forces waited till dawn and evacuated people living in the neighbourhood. “The vehicle was exploded in situ by the Bomb Disposal Squads as moving the vehicle would have involved serious threat,” the police said. Initial investigations said the vehicle’s registration number was traced to a scooter issued in Kathua district of Jammu province.
A top Kashmir police officer told Hindustan Times that they had been working on this case for the last two months.
“This would have been a repeat of the (2019) Pulwama bombing,” he said, referring to the suicide bombing of a CRPF convoy that killed 40 troopers and led India to carry out air strikes at a terror facility in Pakistan’s Balakot. Islamabad retaliated by attempting to carry out strikes at Indian installations in Kashmir. India shot down an F-16 plane that was being used to fire at Indian locations.
A senior counter-terror official in Delhi saw a link to the planned car bombing and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated statements about a “false flag operation in Kashmir”.
A senior counter-terror official in Delhi saw a link to the planned car bombing and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated statements accusing India of prepping for a “false flag operation in Kashmir”.
The reference to a ‘false flag operation’ is part of Imran Khan and his government’s narrative that Pakistan does not sponsor terror groups in Kashmir and India falsely accuses Islamabad of involvement so that it can launch attacks.
“The sequence of events clearly demonstrate that PM Imran Khan had been preparing the ground to deny involvement in terror attacks orchestrated from its territory and support of the deep state,” a counter terror official said.