Agencies probing the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir are close to tracking the owner of the car which was used to target a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway killing 40 personnel.
According to an analysis done by a team of Maruti officials — the vehicle used was a Maruti Eeco — and NIA investigators who have picked up several samples from the attack spot, the car was likely to be manufactured in 2010-11 and may have been re-painted in the years gone by.
Watch: What is Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terror group that attacked the CRPF convoy
“These are the two findings the analysis suggests. But no definitive conclusion has been reached, these leads are being verified further,” a source said.
A team of NIA officers visited the attack spot again Friday and picked up more samples. Through Thursday and Friday, the NIA team scanned not only the attack spot but adjoining areas as well. “The blast was so massive that debris had been hurled to as far as 150-200 m away and landed in residential areas around the attack spot. Some new parts of the car have been recovered. These are being examined along with those recovered earlier,” an officer said.
The Indian Express had reported on February 19 that investigators found shards of a jerrycan and a metal piece with a number. The jerrycan — 20-25 litres in capacity — was suspected to have been used to pack around 30 kg of RDX to make the improvised explosive device (IED) kept in the car. Eyewitnesses said the car was red in colour. Investigators stumbled upon a metal piece with a number that was thought to be part of the car chassis but it turned out to be red herring as it led to a car that was intact and had nothing to do with the blast.
Parts of a shock absorber suspected to be belonging to the car have also been found. These are being examined to ascertain the exact manufacturing and sale date of the car, sources said.
Analysis of several car theft FIRs in Kashmir hasn’t thrown up any clue. Investigators suspect the car could have been either stolen from outside the state or was not stolen at all. In the case of the latter, investigators believe they would have a better chance of tracking the owner.
Jammu and Kashmir police and NIA are already interrogating various known over-ground workers (OGWs) of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which claimed responsibility. Those arrested earlier for having provided any peripheral support to JeM cadres are also being questioned.
The attacker who drove the car was identified as as Adil Ahmed Dar by Jaish. NIA will soon take DNA samples from members of Dar’s family in Kakapora. This, sources said, would be matched with samples of flesh and blood picked up from the attack spot. In an encounter on Monday in Pulwama, a Pak national and JeM operative, identified as Kamran, was killed along with others. Kamran, security personnel said, is said to be the man who trained Dar.