NIA identifies owner of vehicle used in Pulwama attack

NIA identifies owner of vehicle used in Pulwama attack

 Sajjad Bhat (Image courtesy Twitter)

The NIA, probing February 14 Pulwama suicide bomb attack, which killed 49 paramilitary CRPF personnel, has achieved a breakthrough in the case by identifying the owner of the vehicle, a Maruti Eeco, used in the deadly car bomb attack.

A spokesperson of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that piecing together remnants of the vehicle used by the suicide bomber, the investigators, with the support of forensic and automobile experts have been able to identify the vehicle used for the blast.

“A Maruti Eeco vehicle having Chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 Engine G12BN164140 was sold to Mohammad Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of Heaven colony, Anantnag in 2011. It subsequently exchanged hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat, son of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara, district Anantnag, who had acquired the vehicle on February 4. Sajjad was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopain,” he said.

A raid was conducted by the NIA team at his house with the help of J&K Police on Saturday and Sajjad alias Afzal Guru was found not present in his house, he said. 

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The central probe agency has revealed that Bhat has since joined the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group and his pictures carrying weapons have gone viral on social media since Monday morning.

Sources said the NIA investigators have found shards of a jerrycan and a metal piece with a number. “Pakistani footprint in the attack is clearly visible. The bomber’s vehicle was loaded with about 25 kilograms of RDX stored in a container. While it is still being investigated on how the JeM unit behind the attack managed to procure the RDX, investigators believe that the explosives came from across the border,” they said.

Sources said the NIA has so far questioned dozens of suspects in the case and in the coming days more arrests are expected. “While most of the suspects were released after the questioning, the NIA is zeroing in on a JeM module responsible for carrying out the deadly attack,” they added.