In a significant breakthrough in the Pulwama terror attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), with the help of forensic and automobile experts, have identified the vehicle used for the blast. The Maruti Eeco vehicle (MA3ERLF1SOO183735), which was used in the attack, was purchased by Mohammed Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of Heaven colony, Anantnag, in 2011, according to a press statement by the agency. Subsequently, the vehicle was exchanged seven times and finally, it had reached one Sajjad Bhat, son of Mohammed Maqbool Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara in Anantnag district, who had purchased it on February 4, 2019.
"Sajjad was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopain. A raid was conducted by the NIA team at his residence with the help of J&K Police on February 23. However, Sajjad was found not present in his house and thereafter has been evading arrest since then. He has reportedly now joined JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed). A photograph to this effect has also appeared in social media where Sajjad is seen holding weapons," the NIA statement said.
The NIA, a central agency established by the government to combat terror, took over the probe into the Pulwama attack from the Jammu and Kashmir Police on February 20 and re-registered the case. NIA Director General YC Modi, accompanied by senior officers of the agency, has visited the site of the attack, 33 km from Srinagar, where he was briefed by the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The state police had registered a case at the Awantipora police station on February 14 after a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus, which was part of a 78-vehicle convoy carrying over 2,500 personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.
The NIA has already gathered crucial material from the blast site in Lethpora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir and has been involved in the questioning of around a dozen people detained by the police following the blast, officials said.
The NIA is probing planning and execution of the terror attack, the second such strike in three decades of militancy in the state. In 2000, a 17-year-old Kashmiri boy had blown himself outside the Srinagar-based army cantonment, killing two Army men.