Only A Supreme Court Probe Will Reveal The Truth About Pulwama Attack That Killed 44 Jawans… 

It is no surprise that former Governor of J&K, Bihar, Goa and Meghalaya, Satya Pal Malik, came up with an tell-all interview to The Wire on 14th April, in which he has made serious allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet ministers and his government, accusing them of illegal acts of Omission and Commission done with political interests in mind.

Satya Pal has been at loggerheads with the regime over various issues for long and though currently in the BJP fold, his roots are in Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Kranti dal, later becoming a member of Lok Dal, Janata Dal and SP, and a two-time Member of Parliament (MP) before joining the BJP in 2004. He has also been at odds with Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), with Ram Madhav, a leader of the outfit, earlier sending him a defamation notice over a corruption allegation by him. Since he has announced retirement from politics after his last Governorship, all of this explains the alacrity with which he spoke in the interview on various issues, events and matters, taking on Modi while counting support of the Jat community in the Hindi-heartland as insurance.

Following the explosive interview, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been trying to discredit him by circulating old videos of him praising Modi, but even if he is purportedly not telling the whole story, and though there are slight variations on a couple of matters between what he said in the interview as compared to his earlier comments on the same matters, there is enough substance that throws light on several other serious matters concerning the nation.

Among the most serious revelations from him are those about the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14, 2019, that has garnered enormous public attention, trending on various social media since it went online two days ago.

In the interview, Satya Pal, who was Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) during the Pulwama attack in which 44 jawans were killed by an explosive laden car that drove into their convoy of CRPF trucks on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, says that the attack took place because of ‘intelligence’ failure and because the government ‘failed to provide the needed aircraft to ferry the CRPF battalion to Srinagar.’

His revelations, however, also indicate that the Pulwama attack could not have happened without two factors in place:

The first is that the bomber would have to know in advance that a CRPF convoy would be passing on the specific highway on a specific day at a specific time. It’s not like he was perennially lurking near the highways hoping a CRPF convoy would pass by.

Secondly, there had to be no obstruction in the manner of a checkpoint on the designated route to prevent him from carrying out the attack.

There is a third factor – they could have been airlifted but were denied it as Satya Pal says, but convoy movements are normal and cannot be avoided just because of a terrorist threat.

Further, Satya Pal also mentions three other details in the interview:

– 250 kg explosives were used for the attack and these were supplied by Pakistan, with the information coming to him from a government revealed to have a vested political interest in the incident and not from forensic experts who did the analysis later.

– The vehicle was being driven around with explosives in them in the villages for over 10 days before the attack.

– Check-posts in side roads connecting to the highway where the attack took place were removed despite them being security necessities. One of these unsecured roads was used by the bomber, Adil Ahmad Dar, to get onto the highway.

At the time, though the government immediately blamed ISI for supplying the explosives, Army Corp Commander of Northern Command, Lt General D S Hooda, who had dealt with a similar situation in 2016, told New York Times the amount of explosives used in the attack could not have come across into possession of the bomber from across the border.

He was partly right as subsequently NIA found that besides 35% RDX,  the explosives were made of ammonium nitrate and gelatin, among other compounds, bought on Amazon.

The explosives were locally procured for the most part, they were locally assembled, the car used was local and the bomber too was local. Immaterial of who the instigators were, the failures of the domestic intelligence agencies’ which come under the Union Home Ministry in detecting the plot, that too in a hot-spot like J&K in which a terrorist has been frolicking around with an explosive laden car for over 10 days are mind boggling in the least.

More importantly, going by Satya Pal’s statements, the fact that the bomber obviously was aware at least 10 days in advance that a CRPF convoy would be passing that way implies an information leak about paramilitary movements to the executioners of the plot.

Satya Pal Malik says the PM and National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval was told “the attack happened because of our failures”. But shockingly, he  says he was told by PM Modi and the NSA to shut up about the intelligence failures as it would affect them politically while the intent was to blame Pakistan to benefit the BJP in the ensuing May, 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Subsequently, it was revealed by international media as opposed to godi media that the retaliatory Balakote strike which worked up a nationalistic fervor was dangerous political theatrics at national expense for domestic consumption and for the political benefit of the BJP. Nothing else was achieved. The site that was bombed was a hillock, it brought down pine trees and caused the collapse of a mud house in the vicinity, slightly injuring an elderly villager. In the process, India lost an aircraft; the pilot was captured and was lucky not to be lynched by locals as he landed in Pakistani territory. India claimed to have shot down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16, but this claim was later found to be false.

Soon after the attack, the government then instituted an investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which, in August 2020, filed a charge-sheet prosecuting 19 people who it said carried out the bombing at Pakistan’s behest.

But considering Satya Pal’s revelations in the interview, what was required was not a NIA probe but a high-level Judicial probe as the mitigating factors according to the Governor involved those possessing cabinet rank in the Union government. Considering the compromised state of National Institutions, no one would investigate them, much less implicate them for criminal negligence and intelligence failures.

Yet, the peculiar circumstances and the failures of intelligence agencies along with the PM’s alleged role in suppressing the facts cannot be buried or ignored which most of the mainline, compromised media is attempting through a blackout of the interview.

Nothing less than a judicial probe by sitting judges of the Supreme Court unfettered by the ruling government is required. All the guilty have to be identified, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest. Forty-four lives were lost, wives became widows and many children were deprived of a father.

In all of this, after a series of political disasters in 2023, starting with the BBC documentary on Modi, losses in Meghalaya elections, very poor political prospects in upcoming Karnataka assembly elections and the unprecedented, mammoth Adani stock scam in which PM Modi is generally seen by the public as a beneficiary, Satya Pal’s interview puts the regime’s political interests under further strain. In effect, he has provided more lethal ammunition for an increasingly united opposition desirous of bringing the regime down and restoring democracy, rule of law and law and order in the country.

Oliver D’Souza is an award winning author and an editor/journalist

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