The NIA arrested one more accused on Thursday in connection with last year’s Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, an official said.
Mohammad Iqbal Rather (25), a resident of Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam, had allegedly facilitated the movement of Muhammad Umar Farooq — a member of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the key conspirator in the case — after he infiltrated into the Indian territory in the Jammu region in April 2018, a spokesperson of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said.
Farooq, along with others, had assembled the improvised explosive device (IED) used in the Pulwama attack, he said.
Rather was in constant touch with the Pakistan-based leadership of JeM over secure messaging applications, the official said.
This was the sixth arrest made by the NIA in the case, he added.
Rather, a part of the JeM’s “transportation module”, was in judicial custody since September, 2018 in another case related to the terror outfit and being probed by the premier investigation agency, the official said.
He was produced by the jail authorities before a Special NIA Court in Jammu on Thursday and sent to a seven-day custody of the agency for interrogation, he said.
In March, two persons, including the one who procured chemicals online for making the IED used in the Pulwama attack, were arrested by the NIA.
A man and his daughter, who were allegedly witnesses to the conspiracy behind the audacious attack, were also arrested in March by the NIA, the anti-terror probe agency formed in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in the deadly terror attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district last year, after a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a convoy of the paramilitary force.
The NIA took over the case to probe the conspiracy behind the February 14, 2019 attack.
On February 28 this year, the agency achieved a major breakthrough in the case when it arrested 22-year-old Shakir Bashir Magrey, a furniture shop owner and resident of Hajibal in Pulwama’s Kakapora.
Magrey had allegedly provided shelter and other logistical assistance to suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar.
The explosives used in the attack were determined through a forensic probe to be ammonium nitrate, nitroglycerin and RDX.
During investigation, the identity of the suicide bomber — Adil Ahmad Dar — was confirmed through matching of his DNA with that of his father.
The other key terrorists involved in the attack have been found to be JeM’s south Kashmir divisional commander Muddasir Ahmad Khan, killed in an operation by security forces on March 11 last year, Pakistani terrorists Muhammad Umar Farooq and IED expert Kamran, both killed on March 29 last year, Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, the owner of the car and a resident of Anantnag who was killed on June 16 last year, and Qari Yassir, JeM’s commander for Kashmir who was killed on January 25 this year.