A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the anti-terror agency formed after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is in the Pathankot air base to begin its investigation into the audacious attack by Pakistani terrorists.
NIA chief Sharad Kumar spoke to Hindustan Times on the investigation.
HT: What does the probe indicate?
Kumar: We have taken over three FIRs, registered in connection with the murder of driver of an Innova taxi that was first captured by the terrorists; abduction of Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh along with his friend and a cook as well as the hijacking of their vehicle; and the attack on the air base.
The preliminary probe points to involvement of Pakistan-based elements as indicated by phone intercepts. A team of 20 officers from the NIA is in Pathankot and gathering evidence.
HT: Did the terrorists sneak in through routes that smugglers take to reach India?
Kumar: That aspect is part of the probe.
HT: It is being suspected that the attacker of Dinanagar and Pathankot may have used similar routes to enter India?
Kumar: We also suspect that but that is part of the overall probe.
HT: A significant part of the probe will be in Pakistan? How will you overcome this hurdle since the country had never cooperated in previous probes?
Kumar: We hope Pakistan will cooperate. A judicial request for assistance will be sent to Pakistan in due course. We have intercepted conversations between the terrorists and their handlers. Their phone numbers are with Indian security agencies. We hope to identify the conspirators based on scientific and other evidence.
DNA samples of the terrorists’ bodies will be taken and sent to Pakistan in due course. Besides, we will seek voice samples from Pakistan as well.
HT: Don’t you think the inquiry into the Dinanagar attack in July last year should have been transferred to the NIA?
Kumar: I would not like to comment on it. The decision has to be taken by the Punjab government and the government of India.
HT: Involvement of Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed is being suspected?
Kumar: The probe has just begun. I would not like to guess the real identity of the conspirators, Jaish or elements behind Jaish, until the probe is completed.
HT: Questions are being raised on statements of Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh and his jeweler friend and cook?
Kumar: We will record statements of all of them and thoroughly analyze calls made from their phones as well as the number belonging to the dead Innova driver and verify each and every detail. SP Salwinder Singh’s cook had two mobile phones. It is too early to point fingers at anyone.