The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said Monday that it managed to identify the Maruti Eeco vehicle used in the February 14 terrorist attack in which 40 people died from the CRPF in Pulwama and said the owner of the vehicle , Sajjad Bhat of Bijbehara in the district of Anantnag. Jammu and Kashmir, was directly involved in the attack.
Investigators said Bhat had disappeared in recent days, but stressed that the vehicle, which was the eighth in the long list of owners, gave them clues about the worst terrorist attack in the Valley in three decades of insurgency. “[Bhat] reportedly joined the [Pakistan-based terrorist group] JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammed, led by Masood Azhar],” said NIA spokesman Alok Mittal.
“He was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom [a madarsa], Shopian. On February 23, an NIA team conducted a raid on his house with the help of the J & K police. However, it was discovered that Bhat was not present in his house and, subsequently, he has been evading arrest. According to reports, he has now joined JeM. A photograph in this sense also appeared on social networks where he is seen holding arms, “Mittal added.
HT reported in the Monday edition that investigators had identified the vehicle, that the explosives (25 kg of RDX) were transported in a container, and that the investigators believed that the operation was carried out by a unit of JeM in which the knowledge of explosives came from the border, but that included some locals: the bomber, its handler and, possibly, the owner of the vehicle.
Mittal said on Tuesday that investigators collected the remains of the car used by the suicide bomber, JeM agent Aadil Ahmad Dar of Kakapora, in southern Kashmir, from the crime scene in the Lethpora area. It is believed that Dar was driving the vehicle alone, he added.
“A Maruti Eeco vehicle with chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 [and] engine G12BN164140 was sold to Md Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of the Heaven colony, Anantnag in 2011. It subsequently changed hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat,” he said. Mittal.
The investigators said that the pieces of the vehicle extended in a radius of around 150 meters and that the forensic experts collected them meticulously and worked with a team of the manufacturer of vehicles Maruti Suzuki.
“Most parts of the vehicle are usually not numbered, but they can be identified by the number of lots in which they were manufactured. “Once the lots were identified, the manufacturer verified their computerized data to know the lots of vehicles and where they were sold,” said one researcher who asked not to be identified.
After identifying the vehicle lots, the agency focused on a couple of vehicles that were sent to dealerships in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Initially, we suspected that there was a vehicle that could have been used in the attack, but when our team checked the owner, it was discovered that he was using that Maruti Eeco. Then, the exercise continued until we identified the vehicle used in the attack, “the researcher quoted above added.
Researchers confirmed that 25 kg of RDX were used in the attack, along with initial findings that the bus that was attacked was the fifth of the convoy of 78 vehicles. The suicide bomber was waiting for the convoy on a side street, and as soon as he crossed, he entered the road on the left side and detonated the explosives when the bus was on his right. All 39 CRPF staff members traveling on bus number five died in the attack. A member of the CRPF that was part of the Road Opening Party for the convoy also died in the attack.