The visit of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan to the Pathankot Air Force Station will be entirely managed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), with the Indian Air Force (IAF) only giving administrative support to NIA officials.
The JIT will be taken to only those areas of the air force station that were accessed by the terrorists, who attacked the base in the early hours of January 2 this year. According to senior officials, the tour of the JIT will begin from the perimeter wall that the terrorists breached and proceed along the route taken by the attackers.
After their arrival in Amritsar on a BSF fixed wing aircraft, the JIT will be taken to Pathankot by a BSF helicopter. The terrorists’ bodies will be brought to the air base and shown to the JIT.
Red, white and olive cloth demarcated the areas in the air base where the JIT is likely to be taken for a round. During a visit Monday evening, the cloth barricades were visible in at least three patches inside the air base. The area around the boundary wall was cleared of trees. About 500 metres from where the cloth demarcation began was a security light. The terrorists are believed to have entered the air base at this point. The security flood lights were lit before the evening set in. Eucalyptus trees were cleared along the bank of the canal that runs nearby, giving a clear view of the point where the terrorists are believed to have entered.
The building in which the terrorists are believed to have stayed the night and the barracks of the Defence Security Corps which they attacked could also be shown to the Pakistan team members. However, the JIT will not be able to access any other area in the air base. The IAF has erected screens several feet high so that the JIT is unable to see other areas which could be sensitive in nature. The team is likely to be taken to the sites where taxi driver Ikagar Singh was murdered and SP Salwinder Singh and his cook Madan Gopal were dumped, and the field in Akalgarh village where terrorists slit the throat of the SP’s jeweller friend Rajesh Verma.
A senior IAF officer told The Indian Express that no IAF personnel would have direct interaction with the JIT, and that the entire visit and briefing on the spot would be conducted by NIA officials. “We are providing administrative and limited logistical support within the air force station to the NIA. Beyond this we have no role,” he said. Similarly the Army, whose troops were involved in taking on the terrorists, will have no interaction with the JIT, sources in the Western Command said.
Senior military officials said there were reservations in the IAF and Army about allowing the JIT access into sensitive military installations but these were overruled by the government. Pathankot SSP R K Bakshi, when contacted, said the police had not been informed about the details of the visit. Intelligence agencies have sounded an alert about possible protests in Pathankot when the JIT visits Tuesday. Accordingly, police presence has been strengthened in the town.