Sajjad Bhat, Owner of Car Used in Pulwama Attack, Killed in Gunfight With Security Forces
Sajad Bhat, 17, had gone missing soon after the Pulwama attack and later his picture brandishing an AK-47 rifle was circulated on the social media.
Srinagar: In a major counter-militancy operation in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday morning, security forces killed Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, whose car was used in the deadly February 14 Pulwama attack on the CRPF convoy at Lethpora on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Sajjad Bhat and one of his associates were killed in a gunfight in Marhama area of Anantnag district. While the police and army are yet to make the news official, police sources confirmed the deaths.
Soon after the Pulwama suicide attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) identified the owner of the vehicle, a Maruti Eeco car, as Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Marhama area of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Sajad, 17, had gone missing after the attack and on February 25, his picture brandishing an AK-47 rifle was circulated on the social media. He had joined the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group, which took responsibility for the Pulwama attack. He was given the code name ‘Afzal Guru’ and had joined a fidayeen squad.
On Tuesday morning, forces cordoned off a particular location near the village that he hailed from. The joint forces were working on the intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area.
The militants, who were hiding in the area, opened fire at the forces, leaving two soldiers injured. One soldier later succumbed to his injuries.
Before joining militancy, Sajjad was a Class 12 student at Marhama Higher Secondary School.
On February 23, the NIA had conducted a raid at Sajjad’s house with the help of J&K police. “However, Sajjad was not present in his house and has been evading arrest since then,” NIA had said in a statement, adding: “He has reportedly now joined JeM. A photograph to this effect has also appeared in social media where Sajjad is seen holding weapons.”
The vehicle used in the attack had chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 and engine number G12BN164140. As per NIA probe, the car was sold to Md Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, resident of Heaven Colony, Anantnag in 2011. It subsequently exchanged hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat, son of Md Maqbool Bhat, who acquired the vehicle on February 2, 2019.
After the Pulwama attack, the security forces are targeting the Jaish ranks and some of their top commanders have already been killed.
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