It was a routine day for security personnel and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans, who were travelling on the National Highway 44. It was the day when Jammu and Kashmir witnessed its worst terror attacks in years. At nearly 3:15 pm on February 14, 2019, a convoy of CRPF jawans was hit by an explosives-laden SUV on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The attack, which was reported near Awantipora resulted in the death of 40 CRPF jawans, while many others were left injured. The Pulwama terror attack also raised questions on the security system of Jammu and Kashmir.
The attack was later claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The attacker was identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, a local from Pulwama district, and a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed. They also released a video of the assailant Adil Ahmad Dar, a 22-year old from Kakapora who had joined the group a year earlier.
Dar's family had last seen him in March 2018, when he left his house on a bicycle one day and never returned. Meanwhile, the attack was condemned by Pakistan, however, Imran Khan bluntly denied any involvement in the incident, though Jaish-e-Mohammed's leader Masood Azhar is known to operate in Pakistan.
During the initial investigation, it was revealed that Dar was radicalized after he was allegedly beaten by Jammu and Kashmir Police. It was further reported that between September 2016 and March 2018, he was reportedly arrested six times by Indian authorities only to be released without any charges.
What happened after Pulwama attack?
India witnessed massive protests, bandhs, candlelight marches across states to express solidarity with the jawans martyred in Pulwama terror attack. A delegation of Indian doctors cancelled their visit to Pakistan for the 13th Association of Anaesthesiologists Congress, organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, in Lahore on 7 March.
The All Indian Cine Workers Association announced a ban on Pakistani actors and artists in the Indian film industry and stated that strong action would be taken on any organisation violating it. The Indian Film and Television Directors' Association also announced a ban on Pakistani artists in films and music produced in India; the president of the organisation threatened to "vandalise" the sets of any Indian film production with Pakistani artists.
Following the Pulwama terror attack, the government of India raised the customs duty on all Pakistani goods imported to India, to 200 per cent The government also urged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to blacklist Pakistan. The FATF, however, decided to keep the Imran Khan-led country on the 'grey list' and gave time till October 2019 to comply with 27 conditions.
How India avenged Pulwama terror attack
On 26 February, 12 Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and dropped bombs into Balakot, Pakistan. India claimed that it attacked a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp and killed a large number of terrorists, reported to be between 300 and 350. Pakistan's military, the first to announce the airstrike on the morning of February 26, described the Indian planes as dropping their payload in an uninhabited wooded hilltop area near Balakot.
The following day, February 27, Pakistan shot down an Indian warplane. The Imran Khan-led country also took Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman captive for 60 hours. Varthaman was conferred the Vir Chakra gallantry award in August 2019.
Remembering Pulwama: A look at terrorist attacks in J&K
Since 2015, Pakistan-based militants in Kashmir have increasingly taken to high-profile suicide attacks against the Indian security forces. In July 2015, three gunmen attacked a bus, and police station in Gurdaspur. Early in 2016, four to six gunmen attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station.
In February and June 2016, the militants killed nine and eight security personnel respectively in Pampore. In September 2016, four assailants attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri killing 19 soldiers. On 31 December 2017, the Commando Training Centre at Lethpora was also attacked by militants killing five security personnel. These attacks took place in the vicinity of the Jammu Srinagar National Highway.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday filed a supplementary charge sheet against four Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) aides of Pulwama attack mastermind in a case of conspiring militant acts across country. The NIA had last September filed a charge sheet claiming that JeM’s Sajjad Ahmad Khan, a close aide of Pulwama attack mastermind Mudassir Ahmad Khan, was conspiring attacks across India.
The supplementary charge sheet was filed against four JeM operatives under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 121 A (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the government of India) of IPC, and various sections of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sections of Explosives Substances Act.