22-year-old shopkeeper gave idea of attacking CRPF convoy in Pulwama: NIA

Shakir Bashir arrested in February this year had given shelter to the terrorists involved in the attack and had driven the car with the IED explosive till the highway before the suicide bomber took over

Over 40 personnel of CRPF were killed when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into their convoy in Pulwama in February last year. Photo: PTI

The CRPF convoy which was attacked by a suicide car bomber in Pulwama last year, leading to the death of over 40 personnel, was chosen by a 22-year-old shopkeeper from Kakapora in the south Kashmir district, NIA has said in its chargesheet.

According to the chargesheet accessed by Indian Express, Shakir Bashir Magrey, a newly-recruited Jaish-e-Muhammad operative who ran a furniture shop near the Lethpora bridge on the Jammu-Srinagar highway played a vital role in planning and executing the attack on February 14, 2019. He was arrested by NIA in February this year.

While Mohammad Umar, a nephew of JeM chief Masood Azhar was entrusted with planning and carrying out a major attack on security forces, he after building a car bomb with his associates was still mulling on the target when Shakir Bashir suggested the idea to quarry CRPF convoys that pass through the highways.

“It was Shakir Bashir, who then suggested that CRPF convoys which pass through the highway could be targeted near his shop. Since he had his shop right on the highway, he said he regularly observed passage of such convoys.

He pointed out that at one point the highway has a steep gradient and turn which would be the ideal spot to ram a car bomb as the convoy would slow down. The spot also had a slip road to enter the highway,” IE quoted a senior NIA officer as saying.

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Bashir’s idea was reportedly lauded by Mohammad Umar who in a voice message to Masood Azhar’s brother Rouf Asgar in Pakistan had compared the former with Afzal Guru (a key accused of the Parliament attack).

According to the chargesheet, the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was assembled in Bashir’s house. Bashir also drove the car till the highway before the suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar took over.

While Umar and his associates camped in Bashir’s house, the final video of Dar was also shot there.

The NIA also suspects Bashir’s involvement in planning another attack after Pulwama. According to the IE report, voice messages from Umar’s phone indicated that the plans were at an advanced stage but couldn’t fructify due to the Balakot strike by the Indian Air Force and also because Umar was killed in an encounter a month after the Pulwama attack.

The NIA officer told IE that while Umar had sent a message to Pakistan that a second car bomb has been prepared for the attack, the car hasn’t been found yet.

Basheer who had no previous record of terrorist activities, was introduced by one Bilal Kuchey, a sawmill owner from Pulwama to Umar in August 2018, soon after the latter infiltrated into India.

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Kuchey himself was inducted to Jaish by Abbas Rather, a grocery shop owner who worked for several terror groups and was instrumental in assembling the Pulwama attack group together.

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