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Published On: Mon, Feb 25th, 2019

Pulwama : Terrorist used a van for attacking CRPF convoy, car owner on the run, says NIA

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kashmirterrorattack13022019_3NEW DELHI : In a significant breakthrough in the investigations in Pulwama terror attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Monday, identified the vehicle used by the suicide bomber.
The vehicle, a Maruti Eeco van was loaded with explosives before being rammed into bus no 3 of the 78-vehicle CRPF convoy on February 14. News agency ANI reported that the vehicle belongs to one Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara, district Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir. According to reports, Bhat has joined Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the outfit that claimed responsibility for the attack.
A photograph showing Sajjad holding weapons has also appeared in social media . The NIA team, which reached the blast site on February 15, had collected the forensic evidence from the spot in order to probe the incident further. Days ago, the country’s prime terror-investigation agency filed an FIR into the case. The identity of the vehicle — which was torn into pieces following the attack — was established with the help of forensic & automobile experts.

The vehicle was used by Adil Ahmad Dar, the JeM terrorist who, drove the car from the service lane and rammed it into the CRPF convoy killing 40 CRPF personnel and injuring others. Ever since the incident, the security forces have come down heavily on terror operatives within the state. Maruti Ecco vehicle having Chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 Engine G12BN164140 was sold to Md Jaleel Ahmed Haqani a resident of Heaven colony, Anantnag in the year 2011. It subsequently exchanged hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat son of Md Maqbool Bhat resident of Bijbehara, District Anantnag who had acquired the vehicle on 4.2.2019. Sajjad was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopain.

A raid was conducted by NIA team at his house with the help of J&K Police on 23rd February. However, Sajjad was found not present in his house and thereafter has been evading arrest since then. He has reportedly now joined JeM.  The explosive-laden vehicle used for the suicide attack in Pulwama was a mini-van whose owner is on the run, investigators said today. The van, filled with at least 20 kg of RDX, was driven into the 78-vehicle CRPF convoy by a suicide bomber of Jaish-e Mohammad on the afternoon of February 14. The blast that followed had killed 40 CRPF men.

Given the scale of the blast there were doubts if the forensic experts would be able to zero-in on the vehicle. All that remained of it were jagged pieces of metal. The National Investigation Agency, which was probing the case, today said it managed to piece together the remains and make out not only the make of the vehicle but its chassis number and registration number. The Maruti Suzuki Ecco van was first bought in 2011 and changed hands seven times since. It last buyer was Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Anantnag’s Bijbehara.
The purchase was made just 10 days before the terror strike, the agency said. But the investigators drew a blank when they raided his home on February 23. Bhat, 19, was a student of a madrasa, Siraj-ul-Uloom,  in Shopian. Sources say he disappeared on the day of attack and today his photo, holding guns, surfaced on social media, declaring his entry to Jaish. Bhat is seen as the second underground link to Jaish, whose top order has been wiped out in the Kashmir Valley in encounters with the security forces over the last few years.
Under the circumstances, Jaish’s claim — accepting responsibility for the terror attack and pointing to 19-year-old Adil Ahmad Dar as the suicide bomber — had puzzled investigators. Police sources said indoctrinating anyone to become a suicide attacker takes years of work and in this case, there was zero intelligence that a local man was preparing for it.(With Agency Inputs )>

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