Pulwama Attack: India Says Will Make Pakistan Pay, Opposition Stands with Government

Pulwama attack: Security personnel near Awantipora blast site. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

NEW DELHI: The killing of at least 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district Thursday in the worst terror attack the Valley has seen, has reignited the debate on active militancy in the area, the preparedness of intelligence agencies, the diplomatic roadblock by China to bring Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad which has claimed responsibility of the attack, to justice, and the political ramifications in the time of general elections.

The attack, condemned by world leaders, especially by the United States, has put pressure on Pakistan to stop providing safe havens to terror groups. The attack also puts focus on fidayeen attacks by the Pakistan-based terror group and what challenges lie ahead for the paramilitary forces which took over the law and order duties in the state from the BSF in 2005.

On Thursday afternoon, a suicide bomber rammed his Scorpio SUV laden with explosives into a CRPF bus in south Kashmir where a convoy of 78 vehicles, carrying over 2,500 jawans were moving to Kashmir from Jammu. Most of the men were returning from leave to join duty in Srinagar. The convoy had started from 3.30 AM from Jammu to reach Kashmir. About 35 kilometres from Srinagar, at around 3.30 PM at the Jammu-Kashmir highway, a Scorpio SUV laden with explosives is suspected to have emerged from a side road to hit the bus at a right angle.

“A car suddenly came in the middle of the convoy and there was a huge explosion,” said a CRPF man who was travelling in another vehicle that was part of the convoy. “When we came down, the bus was not there. It had been completely charred and the bodies were scattered all around”.

After holding a cabinet committee on security (CCS) meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said those who committed the heinous act will pay “a heavy price”. “Those who did the heinous act will have to pay a heavy price. Those who supported it will definitely be punishment,” PM Modi said. “To all my colleagues, in ruling and Opposition, it’s a sensitive time. We need to speak in one voice because this battle is for us to win,” he said.

Briefing the media in New Delhi, senior Cabinet minister Arun Jaitley said the Ministry of External Affairs will launch an all-out effort to isolate Pakistan for orchestrating the dastardly attack on the CRPF personnel.

“The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will initiate all possible diplomatic steps which are to be taken to ensure the complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan of which incontrovertible is available of having a direct hand in this act,” Jaitley said, adding that it will withdraw the MNF status granted to the neighbouring country in 1996.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh will head to Jammu to take stock of the situation. On Thursday, he blamed Pakistan for the attack and said a “strong reply” will be given to them in retaliation.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday said the party is “fully supporting the government” to bring perpetrators of the attack to justice. “This is a time of mourning, sadness, and respect. We are fully supporting the government of India and our security forces. We are not going to get into any other conversation apart from this,” he said.


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