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Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh pay tributes, salute Indian Air Force on two years of Balakot airstrikes

On the second anniversary of Balakot air strikes, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday saluted the exceptional courage and diligence of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and said “the success of strikes has shown India’s strong will to act against terrorism.”

“On the anniversary of Balakot Air Strikes, I salute the exceptional courage and diligence of the Indian Air Force. The success of Balakot strikes has shown India’s strong will to act against terrorism. We are proud of our Armed Forces who keep India safe and secure,” the Defence Minister tweeted.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Indian Air Force (IAF) had again made clear the policies of New India against terrorism by responding to the Pulwama terror attack.

“On this day in 2019, the Indian Air Force had again made clear the policies of New India against terrorism by responding to the Pulwama terror attack,” the Home Minister tweeted.

Shah also paid homage to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and said the country and its soldiers are safe under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I remember the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and salute to the courage of IAF for air strikes. The country and its soldiers are safe under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he tweeted in Hindi.

On February 14, Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) targeted a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Pulwama in South Kashmir killing 40 CPRF personnel.

Days later IAF launched an air-strike on a JeM camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

The air-strike was launched in the early hours of February 26 and Pakistan’s efforts to launch an offensive the next day to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir was thwarted by an alert IAF.

In the dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying a MiG-21 Bison fighter plane and chasing Pakistani jets, crossed over to PoK where his aircraft was shot down. He was taken into custody by Pakistan. India also shot down a Pakistani fighter jet.

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Pulwama attack: NIA names JeM chief Azhar, brothers in chargesheet

New Delhi/Jammu: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in its chargesheet in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack case has named Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ammar Alvi, slain JeM terrorist Mohammad Umar Farooq, suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar and other terrorist commanders operating from Pakistan.

These are apart from the six arrested accused in the case.

The NIA has filed a 13,500-page chargesheet in the special NIA court in Jammu along with the pictures and digital evidence of the Pulwama terror attack. An NIA official told IANS: “The agency filed a chargesheet (on Tuesday) against Azhar, Asghar, Alvi, their slain nephew Farooq, six arrested accused, and absconding accused Sameer Dar in the Pulwama terror attack case at a Jammu special NIA court.”

The NIA said that it has also named two Pakistani nationals – Mohammad Kamran and Mohammad Ismail alias Saifuddin, both IED experts. The official said that the agency has prepared a watertight case against the people named in the chargesheet along with all the irrefutable evidence, including their chats and call details to highlight the role of Pakistan in the February 14, 2019 attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

The official said that this attack was a plot hatched by the Pakistan-based terror group to project the attack as part of the home-grown militancy in Kashmir. The NIA has also accused several top commanders of the terrorist group in its chargesheet.

The agency arrested Mohammad Iqbal Rather, 25, a resident of Budgam, Jammu & Kashmir in July this year. He is accused of facilitating the movement of Farooq, the JeM terrorist and a key conspirator in this case, after he infiltrated into Indian territory in Jammu region in April 2018.

Farooq, along with others, had assembled the IED used in the terror attack. The NIA in its chargesheet accused Farooq, who infiltrated in India, was an IED expert. Farooq along with suicide bomber Adil and absconding terrorist Sameer Dar prepared the IED that was placed in the Maruti car that was used in the terror attack.

Sameer had come out of the car 500 meters away from the attack site. Earlier, the NIA found that Rather was in constant touch with the Pakistan-based leadership of the JeM and was in communication with them over secure messaging applications and was also part of the transportation module of the terrorist organisation.

The other five arrested accused named in the chargesheet are – Shakir Bashir, Mohammad Abbas Rather, Waiz-ul-Islam, and the father-daughter duo of Tariq Ahmad Shah and Insha Jan – all alleged over ground workers of the JeM.

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Center withdraws 12,000 paramilitary personnel from J&K

New Delhi/Srinagar: A year after additional security personnel were deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, the Central government on Wednesday withdrew around 12,000 troopers of various paramilitary forces, indicating a significant improvement in the law and order situation of the Union Territory.

Ahead of the nullification of the Constitution’s Articles 370 and 35A on August 5 last year, the government had made additional deployments of paramilitary forces to Jammu and Kashmir, anticipating Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks and separatist violence. The intelligence inputs about possible terror attacks had followed after the Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bombing in February in Pulwama, in which 40 paramilitary personnel were killed.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs said that the government had reviewed the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) which includes the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in Jammu & Kashmir.

After the review, the government decided to withdraw 100 companies – 40 companies of the CRPF and 20 companies each of the BSF, the SSB and the CISF with immediate effect. All the companies have been asked to revert to their respective locations.

A copy of the order was sent to the Union Territory government, headed by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and all the CAPFs based in J&K.

The law and order related incidents in Kashmir Valley have dropped dramatically in the last one year. As per the data, civilian casualties due to stone-pelting incidents and the subsequent clashes with security forces, came down by 87.5 per cent in 2019 (January to July) when compared to the corresponding period in 2018. The killings in stone-pelting incidents in the non-winter nine month period last year came down by 62 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

As per the data, civilian casualties due to stone-pelting incidents and the subsequent clashes with security forces in 2019, were 94 per cent less than the number in 2016. Similarly, the injured due to stone-pelting incidents were down by 70 per cent in 2019 compared to 2016.

The Kashmir Valley, in 2016, had witnessed massive Pakistan-sponsored separatist violence after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter by security forces.

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Pulwama-like tragedy averted in Kashmir

Srinagar: A major terror plot was averted in Jammu and Kashmir after the security forces recovered a car laden with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The explosive laden car was said to be placed at a strategic location to target a security forces convoy or a defense installation.

The explosive was kept in a blue drum inside the car. A bomb disposal squad reached the spot on Thursday morning. People were asked to move away from the vicinity. The bomb disposal squad then instead of defusing the explosive, exploded the vehicle.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police tweeted: “A major incident of a vehicle borne IED blast is averted by the timely input and action by Pulwama Police, CRPF and the Army.”

As per the reports, late on Wednesday night, a car was intercepted by the security forces from Rajpora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The police had a specific input about a lone car, which was tracked to Shaadipura, (Rajpura road) in Pulwama.

However, the driver, who is said to be a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, managed to escape after initial firefight in the cover of darkness.

In February 2019, 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in a similar IED laden car driven by a Adil Ahmed Dar, a Jaish terrorist. Later in April last year, a similar failed attempt of exploding IED happened in Banihal in which Hizbul terror module was said to be involved. Both cases of terror conspiracy are being investigated by NIA.

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