- India attacked Pak for supporting terror in a strongly-worded statement
- PM held meeting with Home, Defence, External Affairs, Finance Ministers
- US asked Pak to intermediately end support to all terrorist groups
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
India today summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood and sources say a very strong demarche or diplomatic protest was lodged. The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, has also been called to Delhi for consultations by the government.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Jammu and Kashmir top police officer Dilbagh Singh carried the coffin of a CRPF soldier, wrapped in the national flag, on their shoulder, in Budgam - which is 30 km from Srinagar - to pay tributes. The Home Minister has assured the country that the government will "undertake whatever it takes to avenge this (Pulwama terror attack)".
"The most favoured nation status to Pakistan stands revoked," Arun Jaitley said after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) at the PM's residence. The status of 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) is given to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries. India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996.
On Thursday afternoon, a suicide bomber ripped into a large convoy of 78 CRPF buses with over 2,500 personnel travelling on the highway from Jammu to Srinagar. At Pulwama, the Scorpio SUV with 350 kg of explosives rammed two of the buses transporting CRPF personnel reporting to duty in Srinagar. The massive blast was heard several kilometres away, and left several buses in shreds. Bodies and human remains were left scattered across a 100-metre stretch of the highway.
The terrorist, 22-year-old Adil Ahmad Dar, lived just 10 km from the attack site at Awantipora. He was a school dropout who had joined the Jaish-e-Mohammad last year.
The scale of the attack - on a road that had been sanitised just hours before - points at meticulous planning and possible intelligence and security failure. Questions have been raised about so many personnel being transported at one go. Sources say the Srinagar-Jammu highway had been shut for the last two days due to bad weather, so a large convoy had left on Thursday morning around 3:30 am.
Sources say just two days before the strike, the Jaish had uploaded a video from Afghanistan, of a car bombing, and had threatened a similar attack in Kashmir. According to sources, the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Investigation Department had shared the video and inputs about a possible attack.
Condemning the attack, the government, in a strongly-worded statement, demanded that "Pakistan stopped supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory." The centre also appealed to the "international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar, as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council."
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the attack a matter of "grave concern". But in a brief statement, it added, "We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations."
This is the worst terror attack to take place in Kashmir since the start of the century. On October 1, 2001, three terrorists had rammed a Tata Sumo loaded with explosives into the main gate of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly complex in Srinagar, killing 38 people. In 2016, the army had carried out a cross-border surgical strike and destroyed several terror launch pads after 19 soldiers were killed in an attack on an army brigade headquarters in Uri.