India identifies Jaish chief, 3 others as Pathankot attack handlers

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 07, 2016 22:39 IST
Maulana Masood Azhar was arrested in Kashmir in 1994 while travelling on a forged Portuguese passport. India freed him and two other jailed Pakistani militants in 1999 in return for 155 passengers held hostage in an Indian Airlines aircraft that was hijacked to Afghanistan. (Reuters File Photo)

Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar -- mastermind of the IC-814 hijack case -- are among four people identified by Indian intelligence agencies as ‘handlers’ in the Pathankot airbase attack.

The Indian agencies have found evidence that the attack “conspiracy” was hatched near Lahore, according to government sources.

The details of the four people have been shared with Pakistan “through proper channel” and India has pressed for stern action against them as a condition for any future talks with Pakistan, the sources said.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is understood to have spoken to his Pakistani counterpart Nasser Khan Janjua and shared all relevant evidence including voice data, they said.

Read: India links talks with Pakistan to action over Pathankot attack

The evidence alleging JeM’s involvement in the recent attack may put a question mark on the scheduled foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan in Islamabad on January 15.

Those identified by the Indian agencies are Azhar, Rauf, Ashfaq and Kashim, the sources said. Rauf was the mastermind of the hijack of an Air India plane in Kathmandu in 1999. The aircraft was later taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

The eight-day hijack crisis had ended after the release of three hardcore militants including Azhar in exchange for the freedom of passengers and crew members who were held hostage.

Asked as to what action India wants Pakistan to take against these four, the sources said they have to be arrested and handed to New Delhi so they can be questioned in the ongoing investigation.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar recently said there are indications that some of the materials used by the terrorists were made in Pakistan.

The Pathankot air force station saw a four-day long counter-terror operation in which six jihadis and seven security personnel were killed. The operation by the Indian forces lasted three days.

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