The following is an eyewitness account of the Pulwama blast by Joduram Das (28), jawan in the 43rd batallion, CRPF, as told to the author.
Our journey from the CRPF transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar began at 3 'clock in the morning on 14 February. There were nearly 40 buses in the convoy. The vehicles moved in a queue towards their destination. The convoy travelled for nearly 12 hours without any halt. There were two CRPF camps in between, but we could not halt.
It was extremely cold and it was snowing heavily. There was no place to park our vehicles in the camps on our route due to snowfall. We were hungry. After 12 long hours, we stopped at a CRPF camp at Kaziganj at 3 pm. We were about to halt there, but there was no space for us there either. The camp was full of CRPF jawans from other battalions. We had no option but to move ahead towards our destination, and that too without any food. By 5 o’ clock in the evening, we reached Pulwama. Just after our convoy crossed Pulwama, the bus which was ahead of us blew up with a deafening sound. We saw the bodies of CRPF jawans in that bus being blown up into pieces.
Before we understood what had happened, the huge mudguard of the bus, which was about 15 metres ahead of us, crashed against the glass of our bus, and the glass broke into pieces. We understood immediately that it was an IED blast. When a blast of this sort takes place, anything impacted by it turns into pieces. Only the engine of the bus remained where it stood. The remaining parts of it fell 50 to 60 feet away in pieces. We had heard of such IED blasts in Maoist-affected areas, but never in Jammu and Kashmir.
The blast was so powerful that even the engine of the bus in which we were travelling stopped functioning. We immediately got down from the vehicle, only to find that we were being fired at from a distance. Four persons in our bus had arms in their hands. Our team retaliated immediately, protecting us. The group of terrorists ran away after firing four or five rounds of bullets. There were three to four of them. The CRPF guard who was sitting on the roof of our bus guarding us from possible stone-pelting was grievously injured. He did not have any protection other than a bullet-proof jacket that covered a part of his body. We carried him down with the help of army jawans who arrived just after the blast. He was trying to speak but he could not. He was taken to hospital immediately.
Our bus had to be towed away. Its engine could not start again, although there was no significant damage to the rest of the vehicle. Three buses in our convoy suffered similar damage.
The bus that blew up was the fourth in the convoy. We could not understand immediately how the attack was conducted. The suspicion is that it was a Scorpio that carried the bomb and bumped into the bus. It was a fidayeen attack. But the question still remains as to from which side of the road the vehicle bumped into the bus.
It is very suspicious that after we crossed Pulwama, we did not come across even a single civilian vehicle. Anyone who has worked in Jammu and Kashmir knows that terrorists hardly ever attack civilian vehicles. Were the civilians in the area near Pulwama warned not to tread in that area beforehand? There is suspicion that a huge number of civilians had prior information about the attack.
The vehicle of the terrorists had either overtaken our bus to bump into the one ahead of us, or it bumped into it after passing through a break in the divider. It is most likely that the vehicle came through a break in the divider. The divider was to our right, and the bus which was attacked suffered more damage on that side.
After the attack, we went back to a CRPF camp nearby and stayed there for nearly two hours. By 7 o’ clock in the evening, we started our journey again to Srinagar. During the journey, we crossed the place where the blast took place. We saw that the blast had blown away a part of the road, and the spot looked like a hole.
We were taken to a stadium for a head count. More than 90 jawans were found missing.
We want revenge now. We hope the government allows us to avenge the death of our jawans.
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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2019 17:40:47 IST