New Delhi: In what could deeply embarrass the Union government, a CRPF internal report, according to India Today, stated that the February 14 terrorist attack on its convoy that killed 40 jawans in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir was preceded by a “massive intelligence failure”.
The findings of the report belie the claims of the Union home ministry, which, in June denied an intelligence failure. “All agencies are working in a coordinated manner and the intelligence inputs are shared among various agencies on real time basis. The investigation by NIA into the Pulwama terror attack so far has resulted in identifying the perpetrators,” minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy had said.
India Today reported that the CRPF inquiry showed though intelligence agencies had alerted the force about a general improvised explosive device (IED) threat, it did not have any “input” regarding a “threat from a car-borne suicide bomber”.
The internal report also pointed out critical lapses by the CRPF, including permitting the unusually long convoy to pass through Pulwama. The convoy consisted of 78 vehicles and 2,547 jawans and was on its way from Jammu to Srinagar when it was attacked.
Heavy snowfall had blocked all traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway since February 4, and that explains the long convoy on February 14. However, sources told India Today that precisely because of that “it was easier to identify the convoy from afar…and it also made information leak much easier.”
“The internal report also pointed out allowing civilian vehicle movement during convoy movement had cost the CRPF dearly,” India Today reported.
The inquiry also found that despite there being 39 people on board the ill-fated CRPF vehicle, there were only four weapons in it. “The servicemen in transit would have got their weapons only when they reached their respective units,” the report said.
CRPF officials said that the inquiry also found a video from atop a stationery CRPF bunker vehicle in which one ASI Mohan Lal on ROP duty was seen trying to stop the terrorist’s vehicle. The inquiry has recommended posthumous gallantry award for ASI Mohan Lal, a resident of Uttarkashi’s Barkot village.
The suicide bomber, a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, drove the SUV in a zigzag pattern before ramming into the 5th truck of the CRPF convoy.
The inquiry report said that the damage could only be controlled because all “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was followed by the CRPF. “As per rules, there has to be a gap between every four vehicles, which was done even in this case, which is why the impact was on one vehicle only.” sources told India Today.
The 15-page inquiry report was reportedly submitted to DG, CRPF in May, a month before the Union home ministry rejected that there was an intelligence failure in Pulwama. It will now be taken up in the court of inquiry. However, sources told India Today that the tension-filled environment in Kashmir had “further delayed the final report as the board of officers have been tasked with maintaining law and order in the Valley”.
Meanwhile, the CRPF has now rushed in to save the Union government from discomfort.
It released a statement which said, “There are some reports appearing in certain print/electronic media about a CRPF internal inquiry of Pulwama incident. It is clarified that the conclusion drawn in the article is not founded on the report of CRPF.”
The BJP-led Union government had refused to answer questions on intelligence failure in the aftermath of the tragedy. Instead, the tragedy was used during the election campaign to whip up jingoistic sentiments. If reports about the CRPF inquiry report blaming intelligence failure for the attack are true, it may initiate a debate around the preparedness of Indian intelligence agencies again.