The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday filed a 13500-page chargesheet accusing 19 terrorists of the Pulwama terror attack that had claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans on February 14, last year. The chargesheet names Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar as the mastermind of the terror attack along with his two brothers – Rauf Azghar and Maulana Mohammed Ammar.
The chargesheet was filed by SP NIA Rakesh Balwal in the special court in Jammu on Tuesday.
The NIA case rests largely on the evidence collected from Mohammed Umar Farooq. Masood Azhar’s nephew and IC-814 hijacker Ibrahim Azhar’s son Mohammed Umar Farooq was one of the key conspirators of the Pulwama attack. Both Umar Farooq and IED expert Kamran were gunned down on March 29 last year.
Mohammed Umar Farooq, one of the key conspirators of the Pulwama attack, had trained in Afghanistan from 2016-2018 and had first infiltrated in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018.
The Jaish conspiracy unfolded soon after the recovery of his phone from the encounter site by Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP). The recovery of the phone became a major turning point, bringing to table a plethora of evidence.
When the NIA took over the case, the agency sent the phone to a forensics team, which was able to dig out several photos, WhatsApp chats and mobile videos proving JeM’s involvement in the terror attack on the Indian paramilitary forces.
In the run-up to Pulwama attack, Umar Farooq had clicked several pictures, from selfies to infiltration point in Samba. He had also sent umpteen photos of the execution of terror IED to a Pakistani WhatsApp number.
In one picture, there are remnants of silvery grey IED splattered on smiling faces. The NIA says that the picture was taken on February 5, 2019, and shows Umar Farooq (left) with Sameer Dar (middle) and Adil Ahmed Dar (suicide bomber) assembling the IED. On the 6th morning, they fitted the blue Maruti car with the 200 kg drums of IED.
The investigation agency said that the terrorists were ready to first strike on the CRPF convoy on February 6, 2019, but snowfall had led to the closure of the highway and delayed their plan. Call recordings and Whatsapp chats, with pictures of explosives including RDX being taken, have been recovered from the phone and have provided concrete evidence.
An officer expressed shock that terrorists were not using a coded language for their terror plots as they had been emboldened by the WhatsApp chat’s encryption feature.
Besides mobile footage shot by terrorists themselves, the NIA also found footprints of infiltrating groups bringing RDX with them from the international border in the Jammu sector. The rest of the IED was assembled and procured locally from Kashmir Valley. A WhatsApp message was sent to Jaish commanders informing them that the explosive had crossed safely into Jammu and Kashmir.
The NIA chargesheet also says the Jaish planned a second attack similar to Pulwama but was aborted after Masoods directions in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrikes.