PULWAMA ATTACK IN INDIA…

The 2019 Pulwama attack occurred on 14 February 2019, when a convoy of vehicles carrying Indian security personnel on the Jammu–Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethapora in the Pulwama district of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The attack killed 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel as well as the perpetrator—Adil Ahmad Dar—who was a local Kashmiri youth from the Pulwama district. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. India blamed neighbouring Pakistan for the attack, while the latter condemned the attack and denied having any connections to it. The attack dealt a severe blow to India–Pakistan relations, consequently resulting in the 2019 India–Pakistan military standoff. Subsequently, Indian investigations identified 19 accused. By August 2021, the main accused along with six others had been killed, and seven had been arrested.

The Indian government ignored at least 11 intelligence inputs from multiple sources, including by the Indian intelligence agency Intelligence Bureau and Jammu and Kashmir Police, before the attack. Satya Pal Malik, who was the governor of the state at the time, later alleged in an interview with Karan Thapar that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to remain silent on security lapses by his administration. In April 2023, the Home Minister of India Amit Shah rejected the allegations and said that the government has nothing to hide. He questioned the credibility of Malik’s allegations and asked why he didn’t raise these issues when he was the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Shah asked why Malik raised these issues after leaving the government.


ATTACK

On 14 February 2019, a convoy of 78 vehicles transporting more than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel from Jammu to Srinagar was travelling on National Highway 44. The convoy had left Jammu around 03:30 IST and was carrying a large number of personnel due to the highway having been shut down for two days prior. The convoy was scheduled to reach its destination before sunset

At Lethpora near Awantipora, around 15:15 IST, a bus carrying security personnel was rammed by a car carrying explosives. It caused a blast which killed 40 CRPF personnel of the 76th Battalion and injured many others.[1] The injured were moved to the army base hospital in Srinagar.

Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. They also released a video of the assailant Adil Ahmad Dar, 22, from Kakapora who had joined the group a year earlier. Dar’s family had last seen him in March 2018, when he left his house on a bicycle one day and never returned.Pakistan denied any involvement, though Jaish-e-Mohammed’s leader, Masood Azhar, is known to operate in the country.

It was the deadliest terror attack on India’s state security personnel in Kashmir since 1989.

Perpetrator

The perpetrator was identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, a 22-year old from Kakapora. According to Dar’s parents, Dar became radicalized after he was beaten by Indian police. Between September 2016 and March 2018, Adil Dar was reportedly arrested six times by Indian authorities. However, each time he was released without any charges.

Ignoring Intelligence inputs

Central Government had received at least 11 intelligence inputs, including from the Intelligence Bureau and Kashmir Police, days before the attack. Two days before the attack, Jaish-e-Mohammed uploaded a video of a suicide attack in Afghanistan and hinted at launching a similar attack in Kashmir. The Home Ministry refused to provide CRPF aircraft on the day of the attack and instead let the convoy take the road route, ignoring intelligence inputs.

Investigation

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) dispatched a 12-member team to probe the attack, working with the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Initial investigations suggested the car was carrying more than 300 kilograms (660 lb) of explosives, including 80 kilograms (180 lb) of RDX, a high explosive,  and ammonium nitrate. Lt Gen Hooda said that the explosives might have been stolen from a construction site. He initially said that it was not possible that they were smuggled from across the border, but later said that he could not rule it out.

National Investigation Agency was able to establish and confirm the identity of suicide bomber as DNA samples from “meagre fragments of the car” used in suicide attack matched with Adil Ahmad Dar’s father. However, even after a year of investigation, NIA was unable to trace the source of explosives. The charge-sheet filed by the NIA in August 2020 named 19 accused.

Aftermath

State funerals of security personnel killed in the attack were held in their respective native places. The government of Punjab announced ex gratia compensation of ₹12 lakh (US$15,000) each to the families of the killed security personnel from the state and a government job to the next of kin. India revoked Pakistan’s most favoured nation status. The customs duty on all Pakistani goods imported to India were raised to 200%.The government of India urged the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) to put Pakistan on the blacklist. The FATF decided to keep it on the ‘grey list’ and gave Pakistan time till October 2019 to comply with the 27 conditions it had laid down in June 2018, when it was put on the ‘grey list’, with an attending caveat. If Pakistan failed to comply, it would be added to the blacklist. On 17 February, the state administration revoked security provisions for separatist leaders.

Protests, bandhs and candle light marches were held across India.There were violent protests in Jammu resulting in a curfew being imposed starting 14 February. The Indian community in the United Kingdom held protests outside the Pakistan High Commission in London. A delegation of Indian doctors cancelled their visit to Pakistan for the 13th Association of Anaesthesiologists Congress, organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, in Lahore on 7 March. Indian broadcaster DSport said it would no longer broadcast Pakistan Super League cricket matches.The All Indian Cine Workers Association announced a ban on Pakistani actors and artists in the Indian film industry, and stated that strong action would be taken on any organisation violating it. The Indian Film and Television Directors Association also announced a ban on Pakistani artists in films and music produced in India; the president of the organisation threatened to “vandalise” the sets of any Indian film production with Pakistani artists.

On 20 February 2019, Pakistani prisoner Shakarullah, who was serving a life term in India’s Jaipur Central Jail under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was stabbed and beaten to death by four other inmates. India claimed that Shakarullah was allegedly killed in a brawl among the inmates over television volume. Pakistan claimed that he was killed in retaliation of the Pulwama incide.

Gunfight with the militants

Following intelligence inputs, in the early morning hours of 18 February, a joint team comprising 55 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and Special Operations Group of India killed two terrorists and two supporters in an anti-terrorism encounter operation in the ensuing manhunt for the perpetrators in Pulwama. One of them, Abdul Rasheed Ghazi alias Kamran, was identified as a Pakistani national and was considered the mastermind of the attack and a commander of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). In addition, local JeM recruit Hilal Ahmed, along with two sympathisers who housed Ghazi and Ahmed to evade capture, were also shot dead in the encounter. Four security personnel were killed in the gunfight.

Anti-Kashmiri backlash

Kashmiri students living in other parts of India faced a backlash after the attack, including violence and harassment, and eviction from their homes. In response, many Indians offered to house Kashmiris who may have been evicted.

It was reported that number of Kashmiris fleeing from the rest of India had reached “hundreds”. Jammu and Kashmir Students Organisation reported that 97% of Kashmiri students in Dehradun had been evacuated. Two Indian colleges in Dehradun announced that no new Kashmiri students will receive admission. One of those colleges, Alpine College, suspended its dean, who is a Kashmiri, after some groups called for him to be fired.

Tathagata Roy, the governor of the Indian state Meghalaya, tweeted support for a boycott of “everything Kashmiri”. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad disagreed with this view. A Kashmiri merchant was beaten in Kolkata; the attack was condemned by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Kashmir police chief Dilbagh Singh said they had asked affected states to protect students.” Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah met with Rajnath Singh seeking assistance.

Balakot airstrike

Main article: 2019 Balakot airstrike

On 26 February, twelve Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and dropped bombs into Balakot, Pakistan. India claimed that it attacked a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp and killed a large number of terrorists, reported to be between 300 and 350. Pakistan claimed that they quickly scrambled jets to intercept the IAF jets, who dropped their payloads to quickly return over the Line of Control.

India-Pakistan standoff

Main article: 2019 India-Pakistan standoff

In an ensuing dogfight between Indian and Pakistani jets, an Indian MiG-21 was shot down over Pakistan and its pilot captured. Pakistan released the pilot on 1 March.

Pakistan arrests suspects

On 5 March, Pakistan arrested 44 members of various groups, including the Jaish-e-Muhammad. Some of those arrested had been named by India in a dossier it gave to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. Pakistan said those arrested will be held for at least 14 days, and if India provided further evidence they would be prosecuted. Among those arrested were relatives of JeM leader Masood Azhar, including his son Hamad Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf.

Arrests and operations in India

By August 2021, Indian security forces had killed seven of the accused, including Saifullah, while seven had been arrested.

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