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Return of ‘Fidayeen’: Pulwama attack exposes disturbing trend of truck bombs

New Delhi, Surabhi Pandey | Updated : 15 February 2019, 02:33 PM

Adil Ahmad Dar was in his SUV waiting in one of the service lanes linking local villages to the crucial Jammu-Srinagar Highway also known as NH1A. At 3:15 pm, Dar drove in full speed and rammed his explosive-laden Scorpio into the 70-truck convoy of CRPF personnel. Within moments, 20 jawans died on the spot. The powerful blast was heard 12 km away with bodies scattered on the highway. The 22-year-old also known as "Adil Ahmad Gaadi Takranewala" and "Waqas Commando of Gundibagh" carried out the most-deadliest attack since Uri.

Though the CRPF maintains that the SOP or standard operating procedures were followed, the attack exposes the disturbing trend of ‘Fidayeen’ or suicide attacks returning to Jammu and Kashmir after a long time. It was in 1990s that such attacks were carried out by terror groups.

On November 3, 1999, Fidayeen attacked the Army Corps headquarters in Badami Bagh, Srinagar, in which Major Pramod Purshottam, a popular office was killed.

The major -- the first senior officer of the Indian Army killed in a fidayeen attack -- died while trying to save lives of three journalists who had come to meet him.

Before this, the first-ever such attack took place in Bandipoora in Jammu and Kashmir on a BSF camp in which a deputy inspector general and four security personnel were killed.

Two years later, on February 9, 2001a police control room was attacked at Batmaloo in Srinagar by Lashkar-e-Tayiba’s fidayeen squad. One policeman was killed and eight others were injured. Until then, the terrorists had been attacking the Indian Army or the BSF, but never the J&K Police.

Just six days after 9/11 attacks, fidayeen attack was carried out on September 17, 2001. This time, the target was the J&K police's elite Special Operations Group. Fidayeen stormed the SOG camp at Handwara in northern Kupwara district around midnight and killed nine policemen.

Then it was Uri attack in which 18 troopers were killed on September 18, 2016.

With Pulwama, the terrorists are back with fidayeen modus operandi. What is worrying is that this sort of lone-wolf attack needs minimal training and has potential of maximum damage. World over, from days of Oklahoma to Champs-Elysées attack in Paris, this type of attacks remains a big issue for security forces. Also, it must be kept in mind that Adil Ahmad Dar was just a 22-year-old Pulwama resident, who successfully managed to transport such a huge amount of explosive. Also, the civilian movement on the NH1A means that anyone can be a suspect. It’s a double-edged sword. The security forces need to be cautious without curtailing the civic liberty.

If any suitable action is not taken, it will only embolden the terrorists. After all, the attack happened just 30 km from capital Srinagar. The Indian Air Force base of Awantipur is also nearby. India needs to restrategize its security operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published: Friday, February 15, 2019 02:03 PM
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