The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Thursday arrested a man from central Kashmir's Budgam district for his alleged involvement in 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing that left 40 paramilitary CRPF men dead.
The accused Muhammad Iqbal Rather, 25, son of Abdul Khaliq Rather hails from Futlipura, Charar-e-Shareef.
His name figured during the ongoing investigation into the case RC 02/2019/NIA/JMU.
“Rather had facilitated the movement of Muhammad Umar Farooq, the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant and a key conspirator in this case after he infiltrated into Jammu region in April 2018 from the highway near the International Border to south Kashmir," NIA spokeswoman Sonia Narang said in a statement.
Farooq, along with others, had assembled the IED used in the attack, she said.
Rather was in judicial custody since September 2018 in another Jaish-e-Muhammad related case which is also investigated by the NIA, the spokesman said.
She said the jail authorities produced the Budgam man before the NIA Special Court Jammu on Thursday and he was taken into seven-days NIA custody for his interrogation.
"Initial examination has revealed that Rather was in a constant touch with Pakistan-based leadership of Jaish-e-Muhammad and was in communication with them over secure messaging applications," the statement reads.
It said Rather was part of the “transportation module” of Jaish-e-Muhammad which had claimed the responsibility of the deadly attack.
With this arrest, NIA has so far arrested six persons while the investigation into the case was underway.
Initially, FIR No 20/2019 was registered by Awantipora Police Station on February 14 in 2019 into the incident under sections 302 and 307 of Ranbir Penal Code, section 3 of Explosive Substance Act and sections 16, 18, and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
However, the NIA later registered a case RC-02/2019/NIA/JMU on February 20 in 2019 at NIA Police Station, Jammu and began investigation.
On February 28 this year, NIA had claimed to have achieved a "major breakthrough” in the suicide bombing case revealing that the explosives used in the attack were determined to be Ammonium Nitrate, Nitro-Glycerin, and RDX.
NIA said the militants involved in the attack were found to be Mudasir Ahmad Khan, JeM’s divisional commander of south Kashmir.
He was killed in a gunfight with the forces on 11 March 2019.
While Pakistani militants Farooq and IED expert Kamran were killed on 29 March 2019, the owner of the car Sajad Ahmad Bhat of Marhama, Anantnag was killed on 16 June last year and Qari Yasir, JeM’s Commander for Kashmir, was killed on 25 January this year.