On the third anniversary of the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday paid tribute to the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans who were killed during a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama region in 2019.
In a tweet, PM Modi said: “I pay homage to all those martyred in Pulwama on this day in 2019 and recall their outstanding service to our nation. Their bravery and supreme sacrifice motivates every Indian to work towards a strong and prosperous country.”
On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber allegedly belonging to the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) called Adil Dar rammed an explosive-laden car into a CRPF bus at Lethpora, killing 40 personnel.
Twelve days after the attack, in the early hours of February 26, Indian Air Force jets bombed JeM training camps in Balakot, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. India also launched diplomatic efforts to get JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar categorised as a global terrorist, which it successfully did on May 1, 2019.
The Indian Army and other security forces have also paid homage to the fallen soldiers, with the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army, tweeting, “General MM Naravane #COAS and All Ranks of #IndianArmy pay homage to the brave jawans of Central Reserve Police Force who laid down their lives in the Line of Duty during a Terrorist attack in #Pulwama on 14 February 2019.”
Among other politicians who paid tribute, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the fallen Pulwama jawans deserve more than “ritual mourning”. In his tweet, he wrote, “Our #PulwamaShahid deserve more than ritual mourning. They deserve an accounting of what went wrong &why. Who was responsible for the gross errors that led to this tragedy. What we are doing to ensure that it never happens again. That would be a fitting way to honour their memory.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) formed a 12-member team to investigate the attack, working with Jammu and Kashmir Police. Initial reports suggested that the vehicle which rammed into the CRPF bus was carrying more than 300 kg of explosives, including 80 kg of RDX, a high explosive, and ammonium nitrate. However, though the NIA was able to establish the identity of suicide bomber through DNA samples, it was unable to trace the source of the explosives even after a year of investigation.
In August 2020, the NIA filed a 13,500-page charge sheet before a special NIA court in Jammu, in which it named 19 people who it said had carried out the bombing at Pakistan’s behest. Among the accused were JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ammar Alvi, and nephew Umar Farooq. Farooq, the son of IC-814 hijacking accused Ibrahim Athar, was in India to execute the Pulwama attack and was killed in March 2019 in an encounter with Indian security forces.