NIA team to visit Pakistan for Pathankot terror probe, Pak promises cooperation
New Delhi: After having granted access to the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team to the Pathankot air base to investigate the scene of the terror attack, a team of Indian investigators will now travel to Pakistan to further probe the terror attack that killed seven security personnel, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Friday.
"We told them (Pakistani investigators) that we want to send a team to Pakistan. They welcomed the idea," NIA Director General Sharad Kumar told reporters here.
However, no specific date for the proposed Indian visit has been given.
However, Sharad Kumar said in a statement issued after his brief media interaction that the Pakistani team "assured us of their full cooperation and promised to execute" the Indian letter rogatory for judicial assistance in NIA's probe.
NIA is handling the Indian investigation of the January 2 terror attack that also left a civilian dead before the suspected Pakistani terrorists, who had infiltrated from across the border into the airbase, were killed in a gun fight that lasted for some 80 hours.
The agency now wants to carry forward its investigation and question suspected attack masterminds, including leaders of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group, based in Pakistan.
India blames JeM chief Masood Azhar for plotting the carnage.
Sharad Kumar did not name Azhar, but said NIA has also sought voice samples of some "senior office bearers of JeM" and the DNA sample of the mother of Nasir Hussain, one of the slain Pakistani attackers.
However, official sources have told India TV that contrary to reports earlier, Masood Azhar is not in custody of Pakistan’s security forces. The JIT visiting India have told the NIA that Azhar was taken into protective custody for three days, he was kept at a safe house place but was no longer in their custody.
They had said that there was no proof to establish Azhar’s role in the Pathankot attack and he was released after three days. Pakistan authorities, sources said, have informed India was no longer on their radar and they had no clue whether he was in Pakistan.
During their five-day stay in India from March 27, the Pakistani team, including from the military, police and intelligence agencies, visited the terror scene in Pathankot and interacted with NIA officials in Delhi.
The Pakistan team shared with the Indian agency the results of its probe done in Pakistan.
Sharad Kumar said that NIA gave the Pakistan team "complete evidence against JeM office bearers who conspired in the attack and the handlers of the terrorists who facilitated and guided them.
"NIA also shared the identities and addresses of all the terrorists and requested the (Pakistani team) to confirm the same," he said.
The NIA chief said the Pakistani team was also shown the "locations where the terrorists infiltrated and subsequently hid".
He said the Pakistani team was given access to 16 witnesses, including suspended superintendent of police Salwinder Singh, his cook and his friend Rajesh Verma.
Salwinder Singh has claimed that he, his cook and Verma were abducted by four or five heavily armed militants near Punjab's Kolia hours before the attack.
The attackers also hijacked the police officer's SUV and apparently drove to the air base without raising any suspicion.
The anti-terror cooperation between India and Pakistan is a sharp departure from the past. India has earlier accused Pakistan of shielding the terror accused and hiding proof that could nail terrorist commanders based in that country.
(With IANS inputs)