Remembering Pulwama Attack: A suicide attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers

06 February,2024 03:28 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  mid-day online correspondent

February 14, marks the fifth anniversary of one of the deadliest terror attacks carried out on India security forces- an attack by a suicide bomber in the Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, which killed 40 Indian soldiers

File photo

February 14, marks the fifth anniversary of one of the deadliest terror attacks carried out on India security forces- the terror attack by a suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost their lives in the Pulwama attack. India also marks it as a 'black day'. India on this day, remembers and salutes the CRPF personnel's who laid their lives for the motherland.

What exactly happened?

The Pulwama attack had bought the country to a standstill after a suicide bomber from Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) rammed a vehicle full of explosives into a CRPF, a paramilitary force's convoy.

On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy which included 78 buses, in which around 2,500 paramilitary personnel were travelling. The convoy was heading to Srinagar from Jammu, when the explosive-laden vehicle rammed into one of the bus killing 40 members of the CRPF personnel. The attack took place on Jammu-Kashmir National Highway (NH) 44 at around 3:15 pm. The attack was the deadliest terror attack on India's state security personnel in Kashmir since 1989.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group soon released a video and claimed the responsibility for the attack. The suicide bomber was later identified as 22-year-old, Adil Ahmad Dar, reportedly a resident of the Pulwama district.

Reaction from India and Pakistan

The attack evoked a sharp reaction from across the nation and the next day the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) accused Pakistan of giving "full freedom" to Masood Azhar, leader of the JeM to operate in its country. The MEA in a statement then said, "JeM is led by global terrorist Masood Azhar, who is given full freedom by Pakistan to operate and expand his terror infrastructure."

The attack had severe reactions to India-Pakistan relations, which further resulted in the 2019 India-Pakistan military standoff. The National Investigation Agency dispatched a 12-member team to investigate the attack, along with the Jammu and Kashmir Police. NIA in its charge-sheet identified 19 accused.

Indian Defence Forces retaliates

Meanwhile, across the country protests were held. Some violent protest in Jammu also resulted in curfew. On 20 February 2019, Pakistani prisoner Shakarullah, who was serving a life term in Jaipur Central Jail under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was stabbed and beaten to death by four other inmates. India claimed that Shakarullah was allegedly killed in a fight among the inmates over television volume, but Pakistan claimed that he was killed in retaliation of the Pulwama incident.

Indian security forces launched a counter-attack named ‘Operation Bandar'. In the early morning hours of 18 February, a joint team of Indian military forces killed two terrorists and two supporters in an anti-terrorism encounter operation. On 26 February, Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and dropped bombs into Balakot, at JeM camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. The region was said to be an important training centre for the JeM and other terror organisations.

A day after the Balakot airstrikes by India, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and several F-16s entered Indian airspace on February 27, 2019. They were said to have attempted to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir which was foiled by the Indian Air Force.

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