A day after 40 CRPF men were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met here today and decided that India would take all diplomatic steps possible to isolate Pakistan in the international community, saying there was incontrovertible evidence of its involvement in the heinous crime.
The CCS, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also decided to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan in matters of trade.
The meeting, held at the Prime Minister's residence, was also attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
In a rare media briefing after a CCS meeting, Jaitley said the meeting assessed and discussed the Pulwama attack "in which a large number of CRPF personnel had sacrificed their lives".
He said the meeting observed two minutes of silence in memory of the men who had made the supreme sacrifice and placed on the record the gratitude of the whole nation to them. The meeting also conveyed its condolences to the families of the deceased CRPF personnel.
He said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would make detailed arrangements for transporting the bodies of the slain men to their families in different parts of the country.
Jaitley said that, after a detailed assessment of the incident, the meeting decided that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) would initiate all possible diplomatic steps to ensure the "complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan", saying that there was incontrovertible evidence available that it had a hand in the the gruesome incident.
He said the MFN status to Pakistan stood withdrawn and the Ministry of Commerce would issue the necessary notification in this regard.
Jaitley said the MEA would also engage with the international community to ensure the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism mooted by India at the United Nation.
He noted that the convention was pending in the world body for more than three decades now for various reasons, including the inability of member-nations to agree on a definition of the world "terrorism".
Jaitley said the security forces would take all possible steps to ensure that full security is maintained in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere.
They will also ensure that those who had committed and supported the heinous crime would be made to pay a "heavy cost".
He said the Home Minister would leave for Srinagar today, accompanied by senior officials of his Ministry and various agencies, for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. On his return, most probably tomorrow, the Home Minister would convene an all-party meeting to brief leaders of all political parties about the situation.
About 40 CRPF personnel were killed and an equal number suffered injuries when terrorists attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying security forces with a car bomb at Awantipora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
According to initial reports, it appeared to be a suicide attack in which a Mahindra Scorpio sports utility vehicle (SUV) with about 350 kg of explosives rammed into the convoy of about 78 vehicles transporting about 2,500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.
Some of the injured CRPF men were said to be in a critical condition and were rushed to the Army hospital in Srinagar, official sources said.
Officials said the exact number of those killed and injured as well as other details of the incident would take some time to ascertain. However, a senior official told a news agency that at least 40 CRPF men had died.
Reports reaching here said terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Official sources said terrorists triggered the explosion around 3.30 pm when the convoy, which had left Jammu in the early hours of Thursday, was passing through the Goripora area on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, about 30 km short of Srinagar.
Television pictures from the scene showed that one of the buses, which bore the brunt of the explosion, was completely destroyed in the massive explosion.
According to preliminary information, the explosives-laden car was driven by a local youth. But officials said they were trying to verify this and other details, including the manner in which the attack was carried out. Senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF had reached the scene and were carrying out investigations into all these aspects.
The Pulwama terror strike is said to be the one of the worst on security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and much worse than the September 18, 2016 incident in which 18 soldiers were killed when a group of four heavily armed terrorists attacked an army administrative base at Uri in Baramulla district near the Line of Control.
Ten days later, the Indian Army responded with "surgical strikes" at launch pads across the LoC to prevent Pakistani terrorists positioned there from crossing over into the country and striking at targets in Jammu & Kashmir and other places. While details were not given out, the Army said it had inflicted "significant number of casualties" on the terrorists and those who were trying to support them.
For the CRPF, it was the biggest loss of men after the April 6, 2010 attack in which 75 personnel were killed in an ambush on their vehicle by left-wing extremists in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
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