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NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency, in its chargesheet in the Pulwama terror attack case, has named Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar, his brother and deputy, Rouf Asgar, their cousin Ammar Alvi – all based in Pakistan – and Rouf’s former bodyguard Mohd Ismail, suspected to be in India, as the masterminds of the February 2019 fidayeen strike that killed 40 CRPF personnel. The attack had brought India to the brink of war with Pakistan.
Of the 19 accused in the 13,500-page chargesheet that refers to the hand of the ISI and Pakistan’s other state actors, seven have been arrested, six are absconding and six others have died.
The deceased include Azhar’s nephew Mohammad Umar Farooq, who an NIA officer said, was tasked directly by the Jaish chief to infiltrate into Kashmir in 2018 to oversee execution of the “well-planned conspiracy”.
NIA sources said the chargesheet – backed by digital, forensic, documentary and oral evidence against the accused – contained a “vitriolic” clip of the Jaish chief condemning the killing of his nephew Usman Haider in 2018 and exhorting Kashmiri locals to avenge it with “shahadat”, which motivated Pulwama bomber Adil Ahmad Dar to take on the suicide mission.

As per the investigating agency, the jihadi outfit had even planned a second attack on a key Indian security installation soon after the Pulwama “success”. However, Azhar instructed accused Umar Farooq – IC-814 hijacker Ibrahim Athar’s son who was killed one-and-a-half months after the Pulwama attack – to abort the attack in view of the international scrutiny on Jaish and Pakistan following the IAF strikes on terror facilities in Balakot.
“Mufti has asked the attack to be put on hold,” went the message passed on to Umar, with ‘Mufti’ seen as a reference to Azhar who is held responsible for many terror attacks across India.

The NIA chargesheet said Azhar, Rouf and Ammar were continuously giving directions to the Pakistani JeM terrorists Umar, Mohd Ismail, Mohd Kamran and Qari Yasir both before and after the attack.
NIA sources said the chargesheet has references to the role of Pakistani state actors including ISI in the Pulwama attacks. “Investigation revealed a well-crafted mechanism by Pakistani establishment to push terrorists into Indian territory from launch pads located in Shakargarh (Pakistan) opposite Samba-Kathua sector in Jammu,” the agency said on Tuesday.

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