In a significant breakthrough in the Pulwama terror attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier with the help of forensic and automobile experts, have identified the vehicle used for the blast. The Maruti Eeco vehicle (MA3ERLF1SOO183735) was used in the attack. At least 42 CRPF personnel were killed last month in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 30 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district that also left many critically wounded. More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir. Later on, February 20, an NIA team was sent back to Pulwama to scan a radius of 200 metres around the attack site with metal detectors and they found the car’s key, according to The Indian Express report.
"We had an inkling by then on probable owners. But it was still going to take weeks to reach the real owner with absolute certainty through the normal process,” The Indian Express quoted an NIA investigating officer as saying.
"We realised that given the impact of the blast, the debris may not be limited to the highway and may have been thrown into adjacent areas. So, we decided to scan a radius of 200 metres with metal detectors and we found the keys of the car,” said the officer.
The Indian Express quoted a source as saying, "The car keys along with chassis number helped identify the vehicle identification number (VIN) that has 19 letters and is unique to every car. The alphanumeric code, in this case, helped track the first owner. Car companies usually split the month and year of manufacturing into English letters and with their help, the NIA was able to establish the chain of ownership."
According to NIA sources, Bhat (22) had purchased the car only 10 days before the attack and so is suspected to have purchased it for precisely the purpose of the attack. There was also a mediator in the car sale deal who is currently being questioned by NIA.