India has decided to formally ask Pakistan to share details of the terrorists behind last year’s Pulwama attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy, people familiar with the development said. The suicide bombing attack killed 40 Indian troopers and brought the two countries to the brink of a war.
A formal judicial request or Letter Rogatory (LR), prepared by National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking information about seven perpetrators, four based in Pakistan — Maulana Masood Azhar, his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ibrahim Athar, and his cousin Ammar Alvi — and three Pakistanis who came to India to execute the attack, Athar’s son Umar Farooq, Kamran (both killed in encounters with security forces after the Pulwama attack) and Ismail alias Saifullah, is currently being fine-tuned in the ministry of home affairs (MHA), the people added on condition of anonymity. Ismail is believed to be hiding in Kashmir.
Once MHA finalises the document, which the people said will be done by the end of the month, permission will be sought from the court to send the judicial request to Pakistan. “It’s first such judicial request being sent to Pakistan in the Pulwama attack seeking its cooperation,” said one of the people,a senior government official.
Apart from whereabouts of Azhar, Asghar, Athar and Alvi, India is seeking details of communications between them and the others, including WhatsApp chats, voice notes and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls made from and to Pakistan, and information on persons seen in photographs and videos recovered from the phone of Umar Farooq , showing different stages of preparation of the Pulwama attack, the official added.
Farooq was sent to India in April 2018 to supervise the February 14, 2019 Pulwama attack, which triggered the Indian Air Force (IAF) action against a Jaish terror camp deep inside Pakistan 12 days later, and resulted in a dogfight between fighter jets of the two nations on February 27.
In its official request, the Indian government is also seeking information on the GPS locations extracted from Farooq’s phone as well as details of payments worth Rs10 lakh made into his accounts in Meezan Bank and Allied Bank in Pakistan, recovered by NIA during investigation, said a second officer.
The NIA filed on August 25 a detailed 13,500 page charge sheet naming all seven Pakistanis including JeM chief, Masood Azhar, and 12 others for the Pulwama attack.
“A strong judicial request, equipped with irrefutable technical, material and circumstantial evidence, is being sent to Pakistan. We hope that instead of sheltering them, Pakistan provides evidence and takes action against the Jaish chief and his family members,” said a second person, a MHA official.
India has earlier sent judicial requests to Pakistan in 2016 Pathankot IAF base attack and 26/11 Mumbai attacks but to no avail.