The government gave the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the go-ahead for filing formal charges against eight people, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf in the Pathankot attack case.
Before filing the charges, the probe agency requires a prosecution sanction under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which is provided by the Union home ministry after weighing evidence gathered by the NIA.
“Besides Masood Azhar and Rauf, the NIA will file charges against two handlers — Qashif Jan and Shahid Latif and four dead suicide attackers who were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Abdul Qayum and Umar Farooq. The agency will keep further investigation pending,” said a senior NIA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The agency is yet to trace two more attackers whose presence was confirmed only after a forensic examination.
According to the National Security Guard (NSG), the commando force called to neutralise the attackers, there were six persons who entered the Pathankot airbase. Four of them were killed in the gun battle with security forces while the other two, who were hiding in a building there, were later killed by the NSG commandos. But their bodies were not found. A forensic examination said two samples picked up from the building had human remains.
The agency may take another two weeks before approaching the court for filing the charges.
The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a thorough probe.
However, upon their return, the Pakistani team claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the personnel involved in repulsing the attack.