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  India   All India  26 Feb 2019  Pulwama: Owner of killer van identified

Pulwama: Owner of killer van identified

THE ASIAN AGE. | YUSUF JAMEEL
Published : Feb 26, 2019, 2:15 am IST
Updated : Feb 26, 2019, 2:15 am IST

Bhat, a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopian, purchased the used vehicle on February 4, an NIA spokesperson said.

 Bhat is on the  run. His photo has appeared in  social media in which he is  seen holding weapons.
  Bhat is on the run. His photo has appeared in social media in which he is seen holding weapons.

SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday claimed that the Maruti Suzuki Eeco van used in the February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s southern Pulwama was owned by Sajjad Bhat, a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operative and resident of Anantnag’s Bijbehara area, who is absconding. He had bought the vehicle just 10 days before the strike that killed over 40 CRPF jawans.

Bhat, a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom, Shopian, purchased the used vehicle on February 4, an NIA spokesperson said.

Raids were conducted by a team of the NIA and police at his house on Saturday but Bhat was not present, he said, adding that he has reportedly joined the JeM and his photograph also appeared on social media where he is seen holding weapons.

So far, the NIA has questioned around a dozen people detained by the police following the blast, officials said.

Describing the identification of the vehicle and its owner as a “significant breakthrough”, the NIA, in a statement, said, “Piecing together remnants of the vehicle used by the suicide bomber in the Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy, from the scene of incident, NIA investigators, with the support of forensic and automobile experts, have been able to identify the vehicle used for the blast.”

It said the Maruti Suzuki Eeco vehicle bearing chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 Engine G12BN164140 was sold to Muhammad Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of Heaven Colony, Anantnag, in 2011.

“It subsequently exchanged hands seven times and finally reached Bhat, son of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, who acquired the vehicle on February 4,” the NIA said.

On February 14, JeM’s 22-year-old Adil Ahmed Dar alias “Waqas commando” detonated the van loaded with at least 60 kilograms of RDX after driving it parallel to a fully occupied bus which was part of a large CRPF convoy at Lethapora on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

The explosive caused extensive damage in a 150-metre radius. The CRPF bus was reduced to ribbons of charred metal, with human remains scattered across a 100 metre stretch of the road.

The NIA took over the probe into the attack from the J&K police on February 21. NIA director general Y.C. Modi, accompanied by senior officers of the agency, himself visited the site of the attack where he was briefed by local police and the CRPF.

Tags: national investigation agency, pulwama attack, jaish-e-mohammed