GRANTED SANCTION by the Union Home Ministry, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is set to name Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, Qasif Jaan and Shahid Latif as key accused, apart from the four terrorists who attacked the airbase, in the chargesheet into the Pathankot terror attack case. The MHA sanctions have been granted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and the chargesheet is set to be filed soon. While Azhar and Asghar planned the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot on January 2, Latif and Jaan were handlers of the four attackers, according to investigators.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the NSG have insisted there were six terrorists, but the NIA chargesheet will mention four, as the probe agency has not got any evidence to prove there were six attackers. The terrorists had entered India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, Punjab. The attack killed eight people, including seven Air Force and NSG personnel.
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The fresh chargesheet, it is believed, will help India build pressure on the international community to declare Azhar and his organisation a global terror group under the United Nations convention and Al-Qaeda Sanctions list. The previous attempts to include Azhar’s name have been stonewalled by China on “technical grounds”. According to the NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight, were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum — residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) districts of Pakistan, respectively.
The NIA probe has looked into the phone numbers and a conversation that one of the terrorists had minutes before launching the attack, besides a video message of Rauf that was released on Jaish-affiliated website minutes after the strike. In the video message, which was subsequently removed from the website, Rauf had purportedly claimed responsibility for the Pathankot attack.
The chargesheet will also include forensic evidence, including footprints inside the IAF base that have matched with shoes manufactured by a company in Pakistan. It would also include details of food material and medicines that the terrorists carried and have been linked to Pakistan, it was informed. The attack had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan visiting the airbase to carry out a probe. On their return, the Pakistani team claimed that India did not share much evidence.