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Pak JIT to arrive tomorrow, will get limited access to Pathankot airbase

Source: PTI
March 26, 2016 22:09 IST
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India plans to provide the probe team from Pakistan access to all witnesses in the Pathankot terror attack case but not security personnel from the National Security Guard or the Border Security Force.

On the eve of the arrival of Pakistan's Joint Investigation Team visit, official sources said that India will also press for visit of its probe team to that country for carrying out investigations there.

The sources said the five-member delegation led by Chief of Punjab's Counter Terrorism Department, Additional Inspector General of Police Muhammad Tahir Rai will not be provided complete access to the Pathankot air force base but to limited areas where Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were engaged in an 80-hour gunbattle with security forces.

The Pakistani team which also comprises Lahore's Deputy Director General Intelligence Bureau Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanveer will be brought to the airbase in a special plane on March 29.

The airbase will be visually barricaded by the NIA to prevent any view of its critical areas.

The team will be briefed thoroughly on March 28 at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi which will include a 90-minute presentation on the investigations carried in the case so far, the sources said.

This will be the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials are travelling to India to investigate a terror attack.

Witnesses, excepting personnel of the NSG, the BSF and the Garud commandos of the Indian Air Force, have been lined up for the Pakistan probe team.

The witnesses include Punjab Police Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal and 17 injured people.

The three were kidnapped by the terrorists on the intervening night of December 31 and January one before they entered into the IAF base.

The NIA will also share details about the four terrorists which includes their native villages, people who had cooperated with them and facilitated their entry into India through Bamiyal village on Indo-Pak border.

DNA samples were taken from the energy drink that they are believed to have consumed before carrying out the suicide attack, they said.

Pakistani team will also be taken to the point where the Jaish terrorists had breached into India, the sources said.

While India has made it clear that it will cooperate in the probe provided Pakistan reciprocates in the same way, the sources said the Pakistani side would be asked about some details that India had sought from them.

This includes some phone numbers, persons involved which includes brother of Jaish Chief Masood Azhar and companies who had supplied the packed food to the terrorists.

India can make a request to Pakistan for allowing an Indian probe team there for investigations at a later date, the sources said.

India will also cite similarities between the Pathankot attack and those in Samba and Kathua last year like using same GPS and wireless sets, the modus operandi of hijacking cars, energy drink 'Red bull' (common in all attacks), identical wire cutters and arms and ammunition of Eastern Europe, Russian and Chinese make which available in the Af-Pak region.

The terrorists were engaged in an 80-hour gunbattle with the security forces at the IAF base from the intervening night of January 1 and 2. Seven security personnel were killed, while four bodies of terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed were recovered.

Confusion still remained over whether two more terrorists were involved in the attack. The NIA is now contemplating sending samples of some purported human remains, beleived to be of two terrorists, to a second CFSL laboratory.

The NIA is still awaiting a Letters Rogatory from a Pakistan court so that the evidence collected during the probe can be handed over to the JIT "legally".

It had released photographs of the four terrorists killed during the operation with description of their height. The anti-terror probe agency has said one of the terrorists did not have toes in both the feet.

The pictures have been circulated and the public asked to share information about them. Anybody giving "relevant and correct" information would be rewarded up to Rs 1 lakh, the NIA had said.

The agency has already approached the Interpol for issuance of 'Black Notice' for the four. An international notice is issued for identification of unidentified bodies found in a country.

India has already sent a Letters Rogatory to Pakistan seeking certain details about the four terrorists.

India has also been seeking details of the phone numbers dialled by the four terrorists ahead of the attack on the airbase on the intervening night of January 1 and 2.

The numbers are believed to be in the names of people connected with Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group, including Mullah Dadullah and Kashif Jaan. The numbers shared belong to the Pakistani telecom operators like Mobilink, Warid and Telenor.

The NIA has also sought details and picture from Khayam Baber of her son who was part of the suicide squad that carried out the attack.

Kashif Jaan, one of the key handlers of the attackers, had accompanied the terrorists till the border, the sources said.

The bodies of the four terrorists have been preserved.

Out of the four, two of them have been identified as Nasir and Salim. Nasir was the one who had called his mother Baber in Bhawalpur using the phone snatched from the jeweller friend of Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh.

The NIA has also given details, including the batch numbers, of food packets used by the terrorists after infiltrating into India on December 30. The terrorists had carefully buried the packets which had Pakistani markings and manufacturing dates of November and December 2015, the sources said.

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