NIA’s Pulwama chargesheet nails Pakistan, money trail established - The Daily Guardian
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NIA’s Pulwama chargesheet nails Pakistan, money trail established

As per the NIA chargesheet, Rs 10 lakh was transferred by Pakistan to the bank account of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar’s nephew to carry out the February 2019 attack.

Rakesh Singh

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed its chargesheet on the Pulwama terror attack, revealing some startling pieces of information. The NIA has said that Rs 10 lakh was transferred by Pakistan to the bank account of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) leader Masood Azhar’s nephew Mohammad Umar Farooq to carry out the 14 February 2019 attack.

Farooq’s accounts in Allied Bank (ABL-SHAHKAS WAZIR DHAND KHYBER AGENCY) and Meezan Bank (0703 KARKHANO MARKET HAYATABAD BRANCH PESHAWAR PAKISTAN) were credited with Rs 10 lakh just a few days before the attack. He was the main accused in the suicide bombing and was later killed during an encounter with security forces.

This amount was given in five instalments between January and February 2019. A senior NIA officer who is in charge of the investigation told The Daily Guardian, “Farooq had asked Rauf Asghar Alvi and Aman Alvi to send the funds to meet the expenses and they sent the amount to these accounts.”

The NIA, in its chargesheet filed before the special court in Jammu on Tuesday, said that the JeM terrorists bought the car used in the attack for Rs 1.95 lakh and spent Rs 45,000 to modify it. About Rs 2.25 lakh were spent in mobilising the two IEDs and Rs 35,000 was spent on aluminium powder, which was ordered online. According to the official, four kg of aluminium powder was delivered to the house of Waiz-Ul-Islam in Srinagar. Waiz has been arrested.

An IED-laden car had collided with a CRPF convoy in Srinagar on 14 February 2019. The attack had led to the death of 40 CRPF personnel.

The route used for infiltration by JeM terrorists in 2018-19 is also mentioned. According to the NIA official, operative Iqbal Rather used to pick up the group of terrorists who came from the river side. The NIA has claimed that Iqbal Rather has identified Farooq and also has the technical data to establish that he had entered the Samba sector on 14 April 2018, along with four other associates.

According to the official, Iqbal took Farooq to the house of AashiqNengroo in Kashmir where the travelling party initially stayed. Later, Farooq frequently changed his location. Aashiq is still absconding with inputs claiming he’s currently in Pakistan organising the JEM launchpad.

Shakir Bashir was the individual tasked with collecting explosives like RDX, gelatin sticks, aluminium powder and calcium ammonium nitrate, which were then deposited in his house.

 According to the NIA, CERTin helped them to crack a phone which uncovered images of the explosives that were being made, as well as deleted selfies from the ‘infiltration points’ in Samba and Hiranagar. The phone had multi-layered security and encryption.

Cracking the phone revealed messages that Farooq sent wherein he had told his handlers that Rs 5.7 lakh had been spent on logistics, Rs 1.75 lakh on explosives and Rs 2.5 lakh on the vehicle.

The agency further revealed that the car used in the attack was parked at Bashir’s house. The Rs 2.5 lakh spent on the vehicle also included the purchase of containers for the IEDs to be kept in.

The explosives cache had been brought in through three consignments. One was by Munna Lahori in March, another by Umar Farooq in April and the last by Mohammad Ismail ‘Lambu’ in May.

 Officials associated with the investigation told The Daily Guardian that until last year, the agency was searching for evidence in the dark to reveal the plot of Pulwama. At that time, a Samsung mobile was found in the police station of Naugam in Kashmir. The phone was recovered from the site of the encounter where JeM terrorist Umar Farooq was killed.

 However, the mobile phone was shut down by double level of encryption. The NIA sent the phone to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) to find out the data. CERTin gave NIA a huge breakthrough by decoding the encryption and providing phone data.

US investigative agency FBI also came forward to help NIA. Hours after the attack, a Jaish-e-Mohammad spokesperson sent a WhatsApp message to a Kashmiri news agency claiming responsibility for the attack. This WhatsApp number was in the name of a woman from Budgam. A NIA official told The Daily Guardian, “The WhatsApp servers are in the US, so informally the FBI assists all countries for data and information in such investigations.”

The investigation proceeded with the help of the FBI decisively establishing the Pakistan connection to the Pulwama attack. The Budgam woman had died long before the attack. Her picture and i-card were used to buy the SIM and a WhatsApp account was created. Technical evidence provided by foreign agencies suggests that the number was being operated from Muzaffarabad by Mohammed Hassan, the spokesperson of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

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Amid Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visibly rebellious attitude towards the recently appointed State Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, the former on Thursday said that he has kept his concerns pertaining to the state before the party high command, adding that he will follow their directions, expressing faith in their decisions.

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The Central government on Thursday has directed the states to ensure that the prices of edible oils are brought down to commensurate levels in line with the import duty reductions.

The Department of Food and Public Distribution wrote to all major oil-producing states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to ensure that the prices of Edible Oils are brought down to commensurate levels in line with the import duty reductions. The duty reduction will be effective from October 14, 2021 upto March 14, 2022. According to a press release by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, the government slashed the basic duty on Crude Palm Oil, Crude Soyabean Oil and Crude Sunflower Oil from 2.5 per cent to Nil. The Centre in the letter directed the state governments to ensure the passing on of full benefits of duty reduction by the Centre to the consumer to provide “immediate relief” from the ongoing high prices of the edible oils, especially during the ensuing festival season.

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