February 29, 2020 4:07:08 am
Signalling a major breakthrough in the Pulwama terror case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said Friday that it has arrested a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operative who allegedly tracked movement of security convoys and helped assemble the bomb used in the attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in February last year.
NIA identified the alleged operative as Shakir Bashir Magrey, a 22-year-old furniture shop owner from Pulwama. NIA sources said Magrey allegedly drove the bomb-laden car till 500 m from the attack site before handing it over to Adil Ahmed Dar, who was identified by the agency as the suicide bomber.
Magrey was produced before the NIA Special Court in Jammu Friday and remanded in the agency’s custody for 15 days. The arrest is the first by the agency after registering the case more than a year ago. All the other alleged accused were either killed in the attack or in encounters with security forces.
NIA sources claimed that initial interrogation of Magrey revealed that the material used to assemble the bomb was bought online. They said Magrey allegedly used to track the movement of CRPF convoys from his shop near the Lethpora bridge in the area.
NIA said that Magrey is from Kakapora, the village that Dar belonged to. “Shakir Bashir Magrey provided shelter and other logistical assistance to the suicide-bomber Adil Ahmad Dar. He was introduced to Adil Ahmad Dar in mid-2018 by a Pakistani terrorist viz. Mohammad Umar Farooq and he became a full-time over-ground worker (OGW) of JeM,” the NIA said in a statement.
“During his initial interrogation, he has disclosed that on several occasions, he collected and delivered arms, ammunition, cash and explosive material to the JeM terrorists including those involved in Pulwama attack,” it said. Farooq was killed in an encounter following the attack.
According to NIA, Magrey allegedly revealed during interrogation that he had harboured Dar and Farooq in his house from late 2018 till the attack on February 14, 2019, and assisted them in the preparation of the IED.
“His shop is located near Lethpora bridge, and as advised by Mohammad Umar, he started conducting reconnaissance of the movement of CRPF convoy on Jammu-Srinagar Highway in January 2019, and informed Mohammad Umar and Adil Ahmad Dar about it. Further, he was also involved in modifying the Maruti Eeco car and fitting the IED in it in early February 2019,” the statement said.
NIA sources described the arrest of Magrey as “a big catch as he knows the entire conspiracy from start to finish and was with Dar till minutes before the attack”.
“Dar was not a good driver and also nervous. So Magrey was given the task of driving the car till 500 m from the attack site and hand over the vehicle to Dar. Barring the explosives, it was Magrey who arranged for other stuff needed for assembling the IED. He ordered stuff such as gloves and batteries from an e-commerce site,” an NIA officer said.
According to NIA, it had ascertained the make, model and number of the Maruti Eeco car used in the attack through forensic examination of its remnants recovered from the spot. It said that the explosives used were Ammonium Nitrate, Nitro-Glycerin and RDX. The investigation confirmed that Dar was the bomber through a DNA match with his father, it said.
The NIA had identified the other accused in the attack as Muddasir Ahmad Khan, a JeM leader who was killed by security forces on March 11, 2019; Pakistani terrorists Muhammad Umar Farooq and IED expert Kamran, who were killed on March 29, 2019; Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, who owned the car used and was killed on June 16, 2019; and, Qari Yassir, a JeM commander who was killed on January 25, 2020.
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