The National Investigation Agency's probe into last year's Pulwama terror strike that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, which had virtually reached a dead end, saw a major breakthrough on Tuesday after the agency arrested a man and his daughter who allegedly were witness to the conspiracy behind the audacious attack.
The NIA arrested Tariq Ahmed Shah and his daughter Insha Jan after investigation led to their house at Hakripora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, where a video was filmed by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Adil Ahmed Dar, who rammed an explosive-ridden car into the CRPF convoy. The video was released from Pakistan after the attack.
A truck driver by profession, Shah disclosed that his house was used by Dar, Mohd Umar Farooq, a Pakistani terrorist and IED-maker, Kamran, another Pakistani terrorist (both were later killed in encounters with security forces), Sameer Ahmed Dar, a Jaish terrorist from Pulwama, and Ismail, alias Ibrahim, alias Adnan, also a Pakistani terrorist.
Shah facilitated the terrorists by sheltering them at his house, where they planned the heinous attack on the CRPF convoy and also recorded a video of 'Fidayeen' (suicide bomber) Adil Ahmed Dar which was released by the Jaish-e-Mohammad soon after the Pulwama attack, an NIA spokesman said.
Insha Jan, 23, also facilitated the terrorists, provided them food and other logistics during their stay at the house on more than 15 occasions, for two-four days each time, during 2018-2019, he said.
"Initial interrogation has revealed that Insha Jan was in constant touch with Mohd Umar Farooq, a Pakistani IED maker, and was in communication with him over telephone and other social media applications (till he was alive)," the spokesman said.
The arrest has brought new life into the case which had virtually reached a dead end, with five people, who were either conspirators or executers of the ghastly attack, being eliminated by the security forces in various encounters.
The case had thrown a unique challenge to the NIA, the anti-terror probe agency formed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror strikes in 2008, as there was no solid information about the perpetrators or the mastermind behind the attack.
The first challenge was to establish the owner of the car used by the suicide attacker as there was nothing available from the vehicle which carried a cocktail of explosives like ammonium nitrate, nitro glycerine and RDX, the officials said.
But with the help of forensic methods and painstaking investigations, the serial number of the car that was blown into pieces was extracted and within no time, the ownership of the vehicle was established -- from the first to the last owner.
After JeM spokesperson Mohd Hassan claimed in a video that his group was responsible for the attack, it was sent for forensic examination and the Internet Protocol address was traced to a computer based in Pakistan.