After hitting a blind spot, how NIA traced the vehicle used in Pulwama attack
Srinagar, Feb 26: The National Investigation Agency made a significant breakthrough in the investigations into the ghastly Pulwama attack, in which over 40 CRPF jawans were martyred.
Identifying the car that was used in the attack was of prime importance for the NIA. Based on forensic evidence and with help from a Maruti team, the NIA was able to pin down the exact details of the car as well as its owner, Sajjad Bhat.
An NIA official explained to OneIndia that they started off with a blind case. The impact of the blast was such the vehicle had been reduced to nothing. At first we felt that it could have been a scorpio. It was felt that for such an impact, a bigger vehicle would have been used so that more explosives could have been stored.
However it was the remains of the bumper of the vehicle that provided the first lead. On the look of it, we were able to tell that it belonged to a Maruti vehicle. Following this the team felt that it could have either been an Alto or an Eeco.
However subsequent investigation revealed that it was a red repainted Eeco that was used in the attack. During the first round of investigation, the probe agencies hit a dead end. After finding a number on the bumper, the team was led up to a person, who was believed to be the owner of the car. However, it was later ascertained that the person in question still had the car with him.
The NIA then called in a team from Maruti to help ascertain the identity of the vehicle. Some of the remains that were found on the site had the markings and numbers. The Maruti team after collecting the samples looked into the data base to find out when those parts were used in the assembly line of the vehicle in question.
The Maruti team then traced the vehicle owner to the dealer. From the dealer the ownership details were collected. Following this the NIA learnt that the vehicle was first sold in 2011. The car bore the Chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735. The Engine number was G12BN164140 and it was sold to one Mohammad Jaleel Haqqani, a resident of Heaven colony in Anantnag in the year 2011.
NIA officials also said that they were able to piece together the details with the help of forensic and automobile experts. With the help of road transport officials, the NIA was able to ascertain the ownership details as well. After being sold in 2011, the vehicle changed hands seven times. The last owner of the car was Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara, Anantnag.
Bhat is said to have acquired the vehicle on February 4 2019, ten days before the Pulwama attack (Feb 14). Bhat's residence was raided by the NIA, but he was not found.
The NIA says that he has now joined the Jaish-e-Mohammad.