The Jammu and Kashmir Police intelligence wing had received reports about the possibility of a “major fidayeen attack” in Awantipora area of Pulwama district weeks before jihadist terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad killed over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in an unprecedented car blast on Srinagar-Jammu highway on 14 February.
The Quint has accessed confidential reports that make it clear that the suicide strike occurred notwithstanding alerts about such attempts by a group of JeM militants led by one Mudasir Khan alias Mohammad Bhai of Midora, Tral.
‘Militants Have Reached Awantipora for Fidayeen Attack,’ Police Were Told
An official identified as Shabir Ahmad, who was posted as the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) in the J&K CID, in Pulwama, had written to SP CID CIK vide his communication no: DSP/CI-Pul/2019/18/71, dated 24 January 2019, saying a group of three “foreign militants” had reached Awantipora “for some special work.”
His letter read:
“It has been known from sources that 2/3 FTs (foreign militants) of JeM outfit have recently reached Mudasir Khan alias Mohmad Bhai group of JeM (Awantipora) for some special work, likely a fidayeen/major attack in coming days. The group is also in contact with Shahid Baba group of JeM Rajpora (Pulwama). This input is being developed further.”
Well-placed sources revealed that on 31 January, Additional Director General of Police Dr B Srinivas shared this communication with a number of officers in a particular network of J&K Police, CRPF and other sister organisations.
Official communications to police and paramilitary forces called for high alert, need to sanitise the highway, special deployment of troops and other pre-emptive measures.
These communications indicated that Afzal Guru Squad of JeM could attempt a major strike anytime between 9 February and 11 February.
Officials Blame ‘Intelligence Failure’ for the Attack
Lapses that resulted in killing of over 40 CRPF jawans in the suicide attack at Lethapora, Awantipora, are now attributed to “lack of coordination” between the forces and units with a force, even as several officials still view it as a phenomenal intelligence failure.
A middle rung officer of the J&K Police said, “Our officers seem to have got trapped in 9 February and 11 February – execution anniversaries of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat, respectively. As the two red alert dates passed, they thought that the threat was over. JeM did it intelligently three days after Bhat’s anniversary.”
Mudasir Arranged the Car for the Pulwama Attack
Mudasir Khan, who was mentioned in the CID communication, was killed along with two more militants in a fierce encounter with security forces at Pinglena village of Pulwama on 10 March.
General Officer Commanding 15 Corps Lt Gen KJS Dhillon claimed at a news conference that Mudasir Khan was the “main conspirator” of the Pulwama attack.
Khan allegedly helped in arranging for the vehicle through two residents of Mirhama village of Bijbehara and coordinated the deadly operation.
After graduation and his failure to get a job in J&K Police, Khan had completed a course in electronics and had been engaged as a technician by a private telecommunication company. According to the official records, he had been engaged as an overground worker by JeM. He maintained close liaison with top Jaish militant Noor Mohammad Tantray alias Noora Trali – a 4-feet 2-inch dwarf who revived JeM in the Pulwama-Tral belt of South Kashmir and planned and executed over a dozen attacks on police and security forces on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Noora jumped his parole and returned to JeM in 2015, twelve years after he had been arrested in Delhi. He got killed in an encounter with security forces in December 2017.(The Quint)