The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to seek prosecution sanction from the Modi government to file a charge sheet in the January 2 Pathankot airbase attack.
It is expected to name Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant leader Masood Azhar, his brother Rauf Asghar, and key terrorist handlers Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif in the document.
The NIA’s investigation is complete, and it has reportedly uncovered the identities as well as phone numbers of those who have owned up to the attack on JeM-affiliated websites.
While investigators have managed to link three terrorists killed by security forces in Handwara on October 7 to militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), there has been little progress in the September 18 Uri terror attack probe due to cross-border firing in the area. It is understood that while NIA investigators have been saddled with a charred GPS device used by terrorists in the Uri attack, a similar Samsung-branded instrument is still with the Army.
The LeT had claimed responsibility for the Uri attack, where four heavily armed militants killed 19 Indian soldiers.
Home ministry officials told Hindustan Times that investigators of the Pathankot attack have established the role of four Pakistani terrorists—Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Bakar, Abdul Qayum and Umar Farooq— as well as that of Azhar and Asghar in great detail.
“A footprint found near Bamiyal village in Pathankot, from where the attackers had infiltrated, matches the shoes of one of the dead terrorists. The DNA samples recovered from a soft drink can found in the hijacked car of Punjab SP Salwinder Singh as well as those on the knife used to slit the throats of a jeweller, Rajesh Kumar, and a driver match that of the militants. It has been established beyond doubt that the Pakistani group (JeM) was involved in targeting the air assets at the Pathankot base,” said a senior official.
The NIA charge sheet will help strengthen the legal evidence against Azhar, who India hopes to brand as a global terrorist at the UN 1267 committee in January next year.
The government did not find any local involvement in the Pathankot incident.
The attack was the first of its kind, where the Modi government had informed its Pakistani counterparts of the impending carnage well in advance at the National Security Advisor level. It had also passed on the names of a few Sialkot-based JeM handlers, and asked the Pakistan government to take pre-emptive measures.