The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday said it has managed to identify the Maruti Eeco vehicle used in the terror attack of February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed in Pulwama and aforesaid the vehicle’s owner, Sajjad Bhat of Bijbehara in district Anantnag of Jammu and Kashmir, was directly concerned in the attack.
The investigators aforesaid Bhat was missing for the last few days however stressed the vehicle, of that he was the eighth in the long line of owners, gave them key clues into the worst terror strike within the depression in 3 decades of insurgency. “He [Bhat] has reportedly joined [Pakistan-based terrorist outfit] JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammed, diode by Masood Azhar],” NIA spokesman Alok Mittal said.
“He was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom [a madarsa], Shopian. A raid was conducted by an NIA team at his house with the help of J&K Police on February 23. However, Bhat was found not present in his house and thereafter has been evading arrest. He has reportedly now joined JeM. A photograph to this result has additionally appeared in social media where he’s seen holding weapons,” Mittal added.
HT reported in Monday’s edition that investigators had identified the vehicle, that the explosives (25kg of RDX) were carried during a container, which investigators believed the operation was carried out by a JeM unit in which the explosives knowhow came from across the border however which included some locals — the bomber, his handler, and possibly, the owner of the vehicle.
Mittal said on Tuesday that investigators pieced along remnants of the car used by the suicide bomber, JeMoperative Aadil Ahmad Dar of Kakapora in south Kashmir, from the scene of the crime in the Lethpora area. Dar is believed to own been driving the vehicle alone, he added.
“A Maruti Eeco vehicle having chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 [and] engine G12BN164140 was sold to Md Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of Heaven colony, Anantnag in the year 2011. It subsequently changed hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat,” said Mittal.
Investigators said items of the car were cover a radius of around 150 metres and painstakingly collected by the forensic experts operating with a team from vehicle manufacturer Maruti Suzuki.
“Most of the vehicle components are usually not numbered, however, they will be known by a number of lots in which they were manufactured. Once the tons were known, the manufacturer checked its computerised data to find out about the many vehicles and where they went for sale,” said an investigator who asked not to be named
After identifying the lots of vehicles, the agency zeroed in on a couple of vehicles that were sent to dealers in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Initially, we suspected one vehicle that may are used in the attack but once our team checked the owner, he was found to be using that Maruti Eeco. So, the exercise continued until we known the vehicle used in the attack,” added the investigator quoted above.
Investigators confirmed that 25kg RDX was utilized in the attack, along with initial findings that the bus that came under attack was the fifth in the 78-vehicle convoy. The suicide bomber was waiting for the convoy in a by-lane, and as soon because it crossed, he entered the route from the left side and detonated the explosives once the bus was on his right. All 39 CRPF personnel travelling within the bus number 5 died in the attack. One CRPF personnel who was a part of the Road-Opening-Party for the convoy was also killed in the attack.