Forty CRPF personnel were killed in the deadly Pulwama attack in J&K on February 14 in 2019. (Express file photo)
AFTER AN internal probe into the Pulwama attack found that the length and regularity of its convoys was a contributing factor, the CRPF has reduced the size and frequency of its convoys.
“Earlier, the Jammu-Srinagar air courier was thrice a week. This has now been extended to Delhi. Also, most of our personnel were going in convoys from Jammu. Now, 70 per cent are flying to Srinagar. Moreover, any personnel can take a private flight and claim reimbursement. In fact, since August 5, most people flying to Srinagar are security personnel,” said a Home Ministry official.
“During the Pulwama attack, the convoy had 70 vehicles. Now, the largest convoy does not have more than 40 vehicles. Earlier, there was a convoy every alternate day. This meant almost 180 convoys in a year. Now, there are not more than four convoys in a month,” said the official.
A CRPF officer said this helped to maintain a surprise element in convoy movement. “We also do not plan in advance. If a plan is made, the convoy leaves within a day or two. This reduces the chance of a terrorist preparing for an attack like Pulwama,” said the officer.
Some vulnerable stretches on the Jammu-Srinagar highway are now covered by cameras.
While intelligence agencies had failed to anticipate the car bomb attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, an internal probe had found that predictability of movement, the large size of convoys and reduction in deployment of Army for sanitising the bylanes leading to the highway were also contributing factors.
“While we sanitise the highway, the Army would earlier secure the bylanes. Over the years, their numbers have dropped, so there is less protection for convoys,” said an officer.
Adil Ahmed Dar, the JeM militant who attacked the convoy, had used one of these bylanes to approach the highway.
Meanwhile, the NIA’s investigation into the attack has made little headway in the last few months. The attacker and his handlers are dead, and the key conspirators are in Pakistan. The NIA has neither been able to establish who were involved from Pakistan, nor has it been able to find the source of explosives and map its transit to India.
The make, model and number of the car have been identified. This helped the NIA to establish ownership of the car, from its first owner to the last. However, before the last owner could be arrested, he joined the JeM.
Dar was identified as the suicide attacker by matching the DNA samples extracted from car fragments with a DNA sample of his father. The explosives used in the attack were found to be Ammonium Nitrate, Nitroglycerin and RDX.
Besides Dar, the persons behind the conspiracy were identified as Mudasir Ahmed Khan, Qari Mufti Yasser, Kamran and Sajjad Ahmed Bhat — all were killed in separate encounters with security forces over the last one year.