On February 14, 2019 a convoy of vehicles transporting security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-bound suicide bomber at Lethpora in the Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The attack resulted in the death of at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the attacker.

The accountability for the attack was claimed by the Islamist terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed. A local man named Adil Ahmed Dar was identified as the attacker. This is the deadliest attack witnessed in three decades of Kashmir insurgency.

The bomber Adil Ahmed Dar, 20, crashed a SUV loaded with 350 kilograms of explosives into one of the buses – carrying 35-40 troopers – out of a 78-vehicle CRPF convoy. While 40 were killed in the attack, several injured personnel continue to battle for their lives.

While preliminary reports claimed that the attack was prompted by an IED explosion, it was later reported that Dar had rammed the explosive-laden SUV into one of the buses.

Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack and released a video of Dar, a resident of Kakapora who joined the group a year ago.

This attack has caused a wave of national fury and sorrow. While people are mourning the ill-fate of the Jawans, there is also a general sentiment of rage, the citizens and the grief-stricken family members of the Jawans have demanded justice, and strong action against the terror outfit. This attack has also united the political parties across the country.

Despite the fact that, Pakistan has denied any involvement in the attack, India has meted out a stern warning to its neighbour and Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only condemned the heinous act but also gave security forces full freedom to retaliate against the attack.

This attack also caused an international outrage, condolences have been pouring in from different counties. The United States, not only criticized the dastardly attack, but also attacked Pakistan for harbouring terrorists and cautioned the nation to refute protected sanctuary to terrorists or any terror outfits. China also condemned the attack but did not change its standpoint on Masood Azhar, who is the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Masood Azhar is active chiefly in the Pakistani governed Azad Kashmir. Pakistani authorities took him into ‘protective custody’ after the Pathankot attack in India. India had listed Masood Azhar as one of its most wanted terrorists due to his record of militant activities. India has been incessantly trying to place Azhar on UN Security Council’s counter-terrorism sanctions list, a move vetoed by China.

The situation in Kashmir has been on edge since 2014 and there have been numerous deadly attacks on soldiers. In the last five years, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a 93 per cent rise in death of security personnel. The 2016 Pathankot attack was a terrorist attack carried out on 2 January 2016 by a heavily armed group which attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. The 2016 Uri attack was an attack by four heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was reported as “the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades”. The militant attack was carried out by fidayeen attackers.

Adyashree Bohra studies English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia.

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