Pathankot attack: Pakistan police lodge FIR against unknown persons

But doesn’t name Jaish, Masood Azhar; team of military and civil intel agencies to investigate case

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: February 20, 2016 3:25 am
Pathankot attack: On January 2, six terrorists launched a deadly attack on the Pathankot Air Force Base that killed seven soldiers

WITH PAKISTAN finally lodging an FIR against unknown persons who attacked the Pathankot Air Force station, Indian government sources described the move as “a small step in the right direction”, but expressed “disappointment that Jaish-e-Mohammed or its chief Maulana Masood Azhar have not been named in the FIR”.

India has identified terror outfit JeM as perpetrators of the Pathankot attack and Masood Azhar as one of the main conspirators. New Delhi has also handed over evidence such as intercepts of conversations between the attackers and their Pakistan-based handlers to Islamabad.

The FIR registered at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) centre in Gujranwala, Punjab province on Thursday was lodged under sections 302, 324 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and sections 7 and 21-i of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

A day before the FIR was filed, a letter from Aizaz-ud-Din, deputy secretary (security) in Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, was addressed to the secretary, home department of the government of the Punjab, Lahore, on “Registration of FIR regarding incident of Pathankot Airbase, India”.

According to the letter, “It has been informed by the National Security Advisor India that on 2nd January 2016, four persons entered the premises of Pathankot airbase India and resorted to heavy firing resulting in death of 7 personnel. The attackers were also killed in the ensuing gunbattle. It has been further reported by Indian NSA that these attackers had come from Pakistan after planning the attack and had probably crossed the border from adjacent to Pathankot general area.”

It added, “While inside India, they had been making phone calls to Pakistan on following numbers: 0092-301-7775253, 0092-321-3132788, 0092-345-3030479, 0092-302-4880519 and 0092-300-0957212 and that the attackers belonged to a proscribed organisation. It is therefore requested that a First Information Report be registered regarding the above mentioned incident and investigation be conducted so as to identify the culprits involved in the offence and bring them to trial with law.”

On Friday, Pakistani officials said a new joint team of military and civil intelligence agencies would look into the freshly lodged case, and that any non-state actor found to be involved would be brought to justice. “The registration of this case shows that there is full commitment and earnestness,” Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters.

“If you want to make your image before the world better, and to dispel the propaganda of other countries that our commitment is questionable, then we have to do things like this,” he said.

According to Sanaullah, if anyone, including Azhar, is found guilty of involvement in the attack, they would be prosecuted. “No one becomes guilty upon naming (in a case). I don’t want to name anyone at this stage. Let the probe be completed and if Masood Azhar is involved, action will be taken,” he said. He urged India to provide any evidence it has on Azhar or any other person’s role in the attack.

Meanwhile, sources said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has approached the Home Ministry seeking sanction for Letters Rogatory (LR) to be sent to Pakistan seeking evidence in the case. The LR is likely to be issued next week, they said.

Sources said the NIA had matched DNA samples recovered from the Innova driven by taxi driver Ikagar Singh to that of one of the four terrorists whose bodies were recovered after the attack. “This is evidence that will help prove that the terrorists had waylaid Ikagar and murdered him by slitting his throat,” said a source.

[With PTI inputs]