In the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 44 troopers. The Jammu to Srinagar highway had been blocked for nearly a week and the queue of CRPF personnel waiting to travel from Jammu to Srinagar had been getting longer.
After the attack, massive anti-Pakistan protests rocked Jammu and Kashmir. Demonstrations and candlelight marches were held at dozens of places. Braving the rains, people took to the streets in Jewel Chowk, Purani Mandi, Rehari, Janipur, Gandhinagar, Bakshi Nagar, Muthi, Talab Tilloo, and Satwari and protested against the killings. Raising anti-Pakistan, anti-terrorist slogans, the protestors demanded action against Pakistan for “sponsoring terrorism in the Valley.”
Here’s what we know so far about the terror attack:
- The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the horror and released a video clip of the suicide bomber, a ‘commander’ identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, which it claimed was shot before the young man carried out the strike in Lethpora, about 30 km from here.
- The attack happened even as an intelligence input had warned of its the possibility 48 hours earlier. The intelligence input had said: “Chatter inputs reveal that JeM outfit has hinted to carry out IED attacks along the routes of security forces across Jammu and Kashmir. A video uploaded by the outfit has also been shared with all concerned. It is as such suggested that security forces need to be put on alert to thwart any such attempt by terrorists,” an IANS report said.
- A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comprising the Home, Defence, External Affairs and Finance Ministers, was called for on Friday morning, the government said it was “firmly and resolutely committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard national security”.
- While precise details of the attack were still unclear, police sources said the suicide bomber-driven SUV came along the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus when a 78-vehicle convoy carrying 2,547 security personnel was going from the transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar and rammed it into the bus around 3.15 p.m., triggering a deafening explosion.
- “The bodies are dismembered and mutilated making it difficult for doctors to give the exact number of casualties,” a senior security establishment official told PTI in Delhi.
- So devastating was the attack — one report spoke of 300 kg of explosives, including probably RDX, packed into the SUV — that the CRPF bus was left a mangled heap, many of its occupants losing their limbs.
- CRPF officials said the bus which was the main target of the militants was destroyed fully while another CRPF vehicle was partly damaged.
- In a statement to a local news agency GNS, a caller claiming to be a spokesman of JeM said it was a ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) attack.
- All the injured were shifted to the Army’s 92 Base Hospital in the Badamibagh cantonment of Srinagar city. Some of them were in critical condition.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in condemning the horror. “The attack … is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the brave martyrs,” he tweeted.
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was to visit Bihar on Friday, is set to reach Srinagar instead. In a statement, Singh said the government is determined to foil the designs of those who want to disrupt peace through such a terror attack “sponsored and sheltered by Pakistan”. “Jaish-e-Mohammed has carried out this terror attack. We assure the country that we will undertake whatever it takes to avenge this,” he said.
- On the other hand Pakistan on Thursday said the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district is “a matter of grave concern” even as it strongly rejected Indian media and government’s allegations of the country’s link to the strike “without” probe.
- New Delhi also reiterated its appeal to the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including JeM Chief Masood Azhar, as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
- This is the worst single attack in Jammu and Kashmir since a nascent Pakistan-backed separatist campaign began in 1989. It is also the worst attack carried out by militants after the one on the Uri Army camp on September 18, 2016 left 19 soldiers dead — forcing New Delhi to launch ‘surgical strikes’ on terrorist camps in Pakistan.
(Inputs from Agencies)