Many loose ends hamper probe into Pulwama attack

NIA unable even to trace source of explosives

A year after the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has not been able to trace the source of high-grade explosives used by the car-borne suicide bomber.

Adil Ahmad Dar, a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist, rammed a car into a CRPF bus on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Pulwama on February 14, 2019.

A senior government official said the explosives could not have been bought off the shelf as it was “warfare ammunition generally found in military stores”. A forensic report said around 25 kg of plastic explosives were used.

An NIA official said the explosives packed in the car were “ammonium nitrate, nitro-glycerine and RDX”.

The investigation has hit hurdles and the NIA could not file a chargesheet as all key suspects are dead.

Two main suspects, Mudasir Ahmed Khan and Sajjad Bhat, were killed in encounters with security forces last year in March and June, respectively. Kamran was killed on March 29 last year. Qari Mufti Yasser was killed in an encounter on January 25 this year.

Jaish video

After the attack, the Jaish released a video to take responsibility. In the video, Dar is seen carrying a sophisticated weapon and sitting against the backdrop of a black-and-white flag.

The car he used was first sold in 2011 and resold several times before Bhat bought it on February 4. Mudasir Ahmed Khan had arranged the explosives, the NIA said.

A senior government official said the “engine block” of the vehicle could not be recovered as it blew apart and could have been swept away after falling in a river near the blast site.

“There are many unanswered questions as all the perpetrators who could have helped in piecing together the investigation were killed in encounters. The car used in the attack had changed hands several times. The last person to own the vehicle, Sajjad Bhat, went on to join the Jaish hours before he could be caught. He was later killed in an encounter,” the official said.

“We do not know the financial trail, how the car was arranged. Where did Dar procure the explosives from,” the official said.

An NIA official said DNA samples were extracted from the “meagre fragments of the car” and were matched with Dar’s father.

“Had we recovered samples from a bomb that had not exploded, then tracing the source would have been easier on the basis of its composition and usage pattern. In Pulwama, all we could get was charred remains,” the official said.

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