At school, Adil Ahmad Dar was a shy and introverted student who hardly took an interest in games. According to one of his friends, who didn’t wish to be named, he was an ‘average student’ who remained aloof in the classroom and dropped out after Class 12. He joined Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit in March 2018, police sources said.
Before Dar rammed the SUV vehicle laden with over 300 kg explosives into the CRPF convoy that killed at least 42 paramilitary soldiers, he had recorded a chilling video to condemn the worldly pleasures and glorify war. The message in the video symbolises the lethality with which the Jaish-e-Muhammad outfit operates and how it can turn a shy village boy into a human bomb.
“Salute to my people who have not surrendered before the Indian might and have not let down the flag of honour, dignity, valour and Islam,” Dar, 18, said in a pre-recorded video that went viral on social media after the attack. “We are not begging you to stop your oppression but we will break those arms which have come to suppress us. This action is revenge against the killing of Masood Azhar’s nephew.”
Sources in the security establishment say the horrifying attack also indicates how the Pakistan based proscribed outfit, after facing major setbacks with the killing of its top commander is fast changing the landscape of insurgency in Kashmir.
Most of the Jaish-e-Mohammad cadres have perished after forces launched a massive onslaught against militants in the past couple of years, killing over 250
militants, the highest death toll in a decade including top commanders of various outfits in the region.
Dar alias Waqas, a resident of Gandi-Bagh, Kakapora village in south Kashmir Pulwama district joined Jaish-e-Mohammad on 21 March 2018, along with a trickle of Kashmiri youth who are increasingly drawn towards the ranks of the outfit which is known for carrying out lethal attacks on security forces. After joining the insurgency, three months later, his house was one of the many residential houses allegedly burnt down by security forces in June last year.
After the attack, forces launched a massive crackdown and carried out the door to door searches in many villages of south Kashmir. But the damage was already done. The second such suicide attack carried out by the outfit in the last three decades of insurgency has turned out to be the deadliest. And it is undoubtedly the biggest attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Afzal Guru squad in terms of security forces’ casualties.
The manner in which the attack was planned and executed was also the biggest security lapse on part of agencies, as admitted by the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik.
"We had intelligence inputs but there has been some lapse because we could not detect such a vehicle laden with explosives reaching that spot," Malik said.
The blast took place on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20 km from the capital. It is the most heavily guarded highway in the entire country. Given the number of militants associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, how an attack of this magnitude was carried out has baffled the security agencies.
“How Jaish-e-Mohammad was even able to put together a vehicle laden with explosives in south Kashmir where the intelligence grid has improved manifold in recent years is a worrying development. Where from the explosives were obtained and how the bomb was put together is something which needs to be investigated to get to the root of the case,” a senior police officer said.
What has increased the worries of the security forces is that no other Kashmiri militant, including the 250 militants who were killed last year, or many others who have died in the last 29 years of insurgency, could pull off an attack of this sort. What those 250 militants could not do, Dar did in a single brutal act that left at least 40 CRPF soldiers dead. Police sources said many of those killed were coming back from holidays. They were travelling in a 78-vehicle convoy that was carrying more than 2,500 paramilitary soldiers.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad was formed in January 2000 by Masood Azhar after he was released in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1999, following the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814. With his release, the insurgency in Kashmir saw a paradigm shift. Instead of Kalashnikov-wielding men, fidayeen squads of the Jaish-e-Mohammad started rattling the Indian state and its military installations in Kashmir.
After years of calm, the Jaish-e-Mohammad made a comeback at the fag-end of 2013 when its head, Masood Azhar, released 2001 parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s biography called Aina posthumously. In the 240-page book, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief bats for Guru and trains guns on New Delhi for presenting him as an “unemployed, chain-smoking young man whose loyalties can be bought for peanuts”.
The outfit floated its Afzal Guru squad a month before the Parliament attack convict's first death anniversary. The squad began attacking the military installations across and outside Kashmir in his name.
A top police officer said on Thursday that if there has been any security lapse on part of the police, those responsible would pay for “their misjudgment.” “It is too early to say anything,” he said. “But even we are baffled how these guys got their act together. Getting so much of explosives is impossible here,” he said.
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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2019 10:24:42 IST