In a major development in connection with the Pulwama terror attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Shakir Bashir Magrey on Friday (February 28), a worker of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, who played a crucial role in the attack.
Magrey (22) was produced before the special court of NIA in Jammu thereafter and remanded to 15 day NIA custody.
A resident of Kakapora in Pulwama, he is the one who drove the Maruti Eeco vehicle with suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar in the passenger seat, to a place just 500 metres ahead of the attack site, on February 14, 2019.
He also is the one who fitted the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the vehicle.
Magrey is the first accused to be arrested (captured alive) in the terror attack case. Adil died in the suicide attack, and five others who were accused of involvement in the attack were killed in separate operations by security forces between March 11, 2019 and January 25, 2020.
Magrey, who is the owner of a furniture shop near the collision site, is considered an important link in the probe since he might reveal the motive and events that triggered the attack.
According to The Times of India, an NIA officer said that initial interrogation of Magrey revealed that the latter had accompanied Adil on the day of the attack. The officer recounted the episode and said, “Since Adil was a shaky driver, Magrey took the wheel of the explosives-laden Maruti Eeco when they drove to the collision site.”
Magrey had then got off 500 metres before the site of the attack since only Adil had been chosen for the mission by JeM. Adil drove himself to the attack spot after that.
The suicide bomber had collided with the convoy carrying the 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, killing all of them.
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The Pulwama attack is considered a turning point in the counter-terror journey undertaken by India since it resulted in cross-border counter-air strikes by Indian fighter jets.
Magrey had allowed Adil Dar and another Pakistani militant named Mohammed Umar Farooq to stay at his house from the end of 2018 till the attack in February 2019 and helped prepare the IED.
Since his shop was located close to the attack site, he was asked by Farooq to closely observe the movement of CRPF officers and their convoys on the Jammu-Srinagar highway throughout January.
The interrogation also revealed that the ammonium nitrate powder and batteries used to make the IED, and gloves were purchased from e-commerce platform Amazon.