AAP, Congress protest at Pathankot as Pak team enters air base

  • Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times, Pathankot
  • Updated: Mar 29, 2016 13:06 IST
Protestors from the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party forced the Pakistani joint investigation team to enter the air base from a specially made gate. (ANI)

A Pakistani team investigating the Pathankot attack was forced to enter the air base from a specially made gate at the rear-end of the base on Tuesday following violent protests by Congress and Aam Aadmi Party workers in the north Punjab town.

Chanting slogans against the Centre and holding placards saying “Pak JIT go back”, the protestors waved black flags and reached the gates of the Air Base, where defence personnel were seen trying to restrain them and stop them from entering the restricted area.

“First they come here and attack on our soil bleeding us and they pretend that they are trying to get justice. Congress will never stand this farce,” Harinder Kaur, a protestor told ANI.

The five-member joint investigation team is in India to prove alleged involvement of Pakistani militants in January’s ambush at the sensitive air base that left seven soldiers dead.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said the team will be given limited access to the air base. The investigators are expected to be shown the infiltration points and the terrorists’ route from the border to the airbase.

India is also likely to allow the JIT to talk to the witnesses and the injured, including superintendent of police Salwinder Singh, his friend Rajesh Verma, and the cook, who claimed that the terrorists had kidnapped them.

On Monday, the National Investigation Agency gave a detailed presentation to the visiting Pakistani team on the evidence collected in the case. The JIT also furnished a legal mandate to gather evidence in India.

As far as Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) involvement in Pathankot attack was concerned, the Pakistani JIT did not deny the evidence furnished by the NIA, sources said.

This is the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials are traveling to India to investigate a terror attack case.

New Delhi has been pressing Islamabad for action on the attack by terrorists on the key Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, in January this year.

Seven security personnel were martyred in the attack. All terrorists involved in the attack were also killed in the gun-battle.

The Indian Air Force has visually barricaded key locations in the air base as it doesn’t want the Pakistani team to have full view of the area.

“We have, physically and visually, barricaded the airbase. Tent walls have been erected around the crime scene (shootout site) and nothing else will be visible to the JIT members. Their entry will also be through a special gate through the rear portion of the airbase,” an IAF officer told IANS.

Punjab Police DIG (deputy inspector general) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said that the Pakistan JIT will be taken by the NIA to the site of the gunbattle.

“The team will be provided access to the area of the encounter,” Singh said.

Informed defence sources here said the team members could also be shown the bodies of the killed terrorists kept in a government mortuary.

NIA officers will accompany the JIT members.

The JIT will not get to interact with IAF or other defence and security officials and personnel involved in the 80-hour counter-operation by security forces against the terrorists who attacked the airbase in the early hours of January 2.

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