Calling the Pulwama attack a “well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad”, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), in its chargesheet filed on Tuesday, has listed key evidence including the “forensically matched” voice of JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother, Rouf Asgar, discussing the attack, and a Pakistan government identity card issued to Azhar’s nephew, Mohammed Umer Farooq, the key conspirator.
The other pieces of evidence include photographs of “every step” of the attack, from planning to execution, spanning over 10 months; logs of WhatsApp calls to numbers in Pakistan with pinpointed locations; records of several lakhs of rupees deposited in two Pakistan bank accounts in Umer Farooq’s name.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed when a suicide bomber, later identified as Adil Ahmed Dar, a local resident, rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14 last year. The NIA has said Dar used about 200 kg of explosives.
The 13,800-page chargesheet, filed in an NIA special court in Jammu, has named 19 people, including Masood Azhar, his brothers Rouf Asgar and Ammar Alvi, and nephew Umer Farooq. Of the 19, six are dead, seven have been arrested, and the remaining six – Masood Azhar, Rouf Asgar, Ammar Alvi (all Pakistan-based) and three local militants – are still at large.
Farooq, son of IC-814 hijacker Mohammed Ibrahim Ather, was killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir in March last year. The 1999 hijack of the Air India flight had led to the release of Masood Azhar from Indian custody.
“The main accused viz. Mohammad Umer Farooq also visited Afghanistan for explosives training in 2016-17,” the NIA said in a statement.
NIA sources said the chargesheet has mentioned evidence of a batch of five JeM operatives, including Umer Farooq, having crossed over to India in April 2018 using a tunnel at the International Border in Samba sector of Jammu.
“He (Farooq) infiltrated into India through International Border at Jammu-Samba sector in April 2018 and took over as Jaish-e-Mohammad commander of Pulwama. Mohammad Umer (Farooq) along with his Pakistani compatriots, Mohd Kamran, Mohd Ismail alias Saifullah and Qari Yasir, and local associates Sameer Dar and Adil Ahmad Dar planned and prepared for the attack on security forces using IEDs,” the NIA said in a statement.
“The investigation has revealed that the Pulwama attack was the result of a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad. The JeM leaders have been sending their cadres to the terrorist training camps of Al-Qaeda-Taliban-JeM and Haqqani-JeM in Afghanistan for receiving training in explosives and other terrorist tactics,” the chargesheet has said.
NIA sources said the chargesheet has presented scientific and forensic evidence of the JeM’s involvement. “After Umer Farooq and four of his associates were killed in an encounter after the attack, we scanned their phones. They had photographs of every step of the planning, from infiltration (into India) to the execution. We even have photographs of what looks like a tunnel (that was) used to infiltrate into India. There are photographs of all those involved in the planning, the car used, explosives, IEDs and even videos of the multiple rehearsals by the attackers before shooting the final video of attacker Adil Ahmed Dar as a fidayeen. All these were sent to Pakistan,” said an NIA officer.
Around the time of the attack, hundreds of WhatsApp calls were made from these phones to numbers in Pakistan, said sources. “We have been able to give pinpointed locations of these numbers in Pakistan. For some reason, the bosses in Pakistan were sending directions for the attack through WhatsApp voice packets. Many of these voices are of Rouf Asgar. We have been able to match these forensically with his voice sample available in open source,” said another NIA officer.
The agency has also been probing the finances behind the attack. “This probe is still in progress. However, we have found that around the time the car and explosives were bought, two accounts in the name of Umer Farooq, with Allied Bank and Meezan Bank in Pakistan, received funds to the tune of several lakhs of rupees. How this money reached Kashmir is a matter of investigation,” said the officer.
Apart from this, the NIA has also attached an identity card with “Pakistan National Identity Card” written on it. It has Umer Farooq’s photograph and details. Such identity cards are issued by Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority and are mandatory for voting and to get a passport made, sources said.
“Investigations have revealed that the Pakistan-based JeM leadership, consisting of Masood Azhar, Rouf Asgar and Ammar Alvi alias Chacha alias Chota Masood, were continuously giving directions and guidance to the Pakistani JeM terrorists (who had infiltrated into India), both before and after the attack. They had also planned to carry out another suicide attack, which got averted due to the Balakot strikes and due to the killing of main conspirator, Mohd Umar Farooq, by the security forces. Further, due to international pressure, Pakistan lay low,” the NIA said.
The NIA has named some local residents – Shakir Bashir, Insha Jan, Peer Tariq Ahmad Shah and Bilal Ahmad Kuchey – for providing logistics and sheltering the Jaish operatives in their houses.
Special Judge Suneet Gupta has fixed September 1 for hearing the arguments.