It was around 3:00 pm on this day, last year when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist rammed a vehicle carrying explosives into the Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF) convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
Around 40 CRPF personnel were killed when their convoy was targeted by the suicide bomber of Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pulwama district.
Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after the convoy of 78 buses, in which around 2500 CRPF personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar, came under attack.
Nationwide protests erupted against the dastardly terror attack even as the country bid goodbye to its bravehearts. Leaders across the party lines and civil society condemned the attack and called for an appropriate response.
Following the dastardly attack, India had launched extensive diplomatic efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist, which finally became a reality on May 1 when China lifted its technical hold on a proposal introduced by the US, the UK, and France in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council.
Around 12 days after the terror attack, in the wee hours of February 26, Indian Air Force jets bombed the JeM camp in Balakot, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
It's been a year since the attack, but the loss of the CRPF personnel still haunts India. Several questions on the attack remain unanswered. Here's what happened post Pulwama attack;
What was the source of high-grade explosives?
Well, even a year after the Pulwama terror attack, the National Investigation A gency (NIA) has failed to trace the source of the explosives used by the sucide bomber that killed 40 CRDPF personnel.
However, two suspects Mudasir Ahmed Khan and Sajjad Bhat were killed in encounter with the J&K security forces in March and June respectively last year. Hence, NIA could not file a charge sheet against the suspects to take the probe forward. Since the suspects were killed, NIA official said, it is difficult to gather technical evidence to understand the conspiracy of the attackers.
The initial probe stated that the vehicle was first sold in 2011 and resold several times before Sajjad Bhat bought it on February 4, 2019. NIA also said that Mudasir Khan has arranged the explosives before the attack.
A senior government officer had said that the explosives were warfare ammunition that are found in military stores, reported The Hindu.
Another reason why tracing the source of explosives is difficult is that the engine block of the vehicle was blown apart after the car rammed into the CRPF vehicle.
Moreover, only burnt residues were found at the site, said the NIA official. "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," the official added.
How was car arranged?
An official spokesman said the NIA had identified the vehicle and its owner after piecing together remnants of the car recovered from the scene of the blast.
The NIA investigators, with the help of forensic experts, identified that the vehicle used in the blast was a Maruti Eeco. The vehicle was first sold to Mudasir Khan in 2011, and subsequently it changed hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara in south Kashmir.
The vehicle was purchased on February 4.
The NIA officials said that the bomber’s vehicle was loaded with about 25 kgs of RDX stored in a container.
However, sources in CRPF said that around 60 kg of powerful RDX was detonated in one of the worst attacks in decades and not 350 kg, as the initial reports had suggested. Also, it appears that the RDX was brought into Valley in small doses over a period of time. Incidentally, it was laden in a sedan, not an SUV.
Was Davinder Singh involved?
While the role of suspended DSP Davinder Singh remains unknown, he has been under the scanner since 2017 as it emerged that he had sheltered three terrorists at his residence right next to the Army's XV corps headquarters at Badami Bagh cantonment, officials said.
On January 11, police arrested Davinder Singh on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway when he was transporting Naveed, Rafi and Irfan to Jammu.
The tainted cop was posted in Pulwama from May 2017 to August 8, 2018. Congress leaders alleged that Singh was involved in the Pulwama terror attack.
Though Congress leaders have alleged that Singh was involved in the Pulwama attack, the authorities have dismissed all allegations against him stating that "he was moved out of Pulwama a couple of months before the attacks," reported CNN-News18.
Despite, police officials dismissing that the allegations, questions on his involvement still remains unanswered.
After the allegations over his involvement in the attack, the officals have now initiated a probe against him.
What led to the intel failure?
Internal findings of the CRPF had revealed that the Pulwama attack was a result of a massive intelligence failure. However, this contracts to the statemnent by the Ministry of Home Affairs that stated otherwise.
An inquiry in the incident reported that there was a general alert about the IED during the attack period but not specific to a car-borne suicide bomber. In the report it was stated that no such information was provided by the intelligence agencies in the Kashmir Valley.
However, the Home Ministry remains adamant on its stand. India Today quoted MoS (Home) G Kishan Reddy as saying, "J&K is affected by terrorism sponsored and supported from across the border for the last three decades. Owing to the policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and sustained action against terrorists by the security forces, a large number of terrorists have been neutralized during the past few years. All agencies are working in a coordinated manner and intelligence inputs are shared among various agencies on real-time basis."
The report has raised questions regarding civilian movement while the convoys were plying the CRPF personnel.
(With inputs from Agencies)