Pathankot attack probe: Pakistan, Indian investigators start formal deliberations

JIT to be given limited tour of airbase today with critical areas visually barricaded


Aditi Phadnis March 28, 2016
Indian security personnel stand guard next to a barricade outside the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab, India, January 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: The five-member Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) will be given a limited tour of the Pathankot airbase today (Tuesday) after investigators of two countries opened formal discussions on Monday on the probe into the January 2 attack on the Indian airbase.

On Monday, Indian authorities gave a detailed briefing on the Pathankot attack which left at least seven officials dead and around 17 others injured.

No facilitation of Pathankot probe by Pakistani team: Indian defence minister

New Delhi had blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants for the attack and shared ‘leads’ with Islamabad. Acting on the information provided by India, Islamabad had formed a JIT comprising officials from intelligence agencies, as well as police, to probe the attack.

The five-member team, which had arrived in New Delhi on Sunday, visited the Ministry of Home Affairs where they held extensive discussions.

Later, the JIT visited the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters where they were received by Inspector General Sanjiv Kumar Singh. The team met Indian officers who have been working on the case and were given detailed presentations on the evidence they had collected.

Citing sources within the NIA, NDTV said the Pakistan team was shown evidence regarding the involvement of JeM chief Masood Azhar and his brother Mohammed Rauf Asghar, call records between the terrorists and their handlers, DNA samples of terrorists killed, statements of witnesses and copies of the FIR.

Sources said the JIT did not raise any objections or contradictory questions on the evidence they were shown during the six-hour long meeting.

“The fact that they did not contradict or made any adverse comment or observation is a positive sign,” the sources said.

Sources added that the Pakistani team is being extended cooperation on the principle of reciprocity with the hope that an Indian team may be allowed to travel to Pakistan at a later date to carry out their investigations.

Travel to Pathankot

The team, which is led by Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) chief Muhammad Tahir Rai and includes members from the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau, is expected to travel to the Pathankot base today (Tuesday) on a special Indian Border Security Force (BSF) aircraft.

“Pakistan JIT will be taken to different locations associated with Pathankot attack case tomorrow (Tuesday),” the IG NIA told a news briefing.

Indian officials have previously said that the team will be chaperoned through parts of the sensitive installation with visual barricades to block off view of critical areas.

Further, the JIT will be given access to a host of witnesses in the case including Indian Punjab SP Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma, cook Madan Gopal as well as the 17 people who were injured in the attack.

Pakistan-based JIT arrives in New Delhi to probe Pathankot attack

Earlier, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said the decision to allow the Pakistani investigation team to visit the base rests with the NIA who have control of the ‘crime scene’.

“An area where the actual crime had taken place had been handed over to NIA long back which is conducting the entire investigation. Who will be taken there, who will probe, depends on the decision of NIA,” Parrikar said replying to questions in Quepem.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2016.

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