Government officials said on Sunday they have clinching evidence of Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) involvement in the Pathankot airbase attack from mobile communication intercepts that suggest a key operative of the terror group dropped off the gunmen on the other side of the border before they entered India and launched the attack.
The new evidence is among several findings that the National Investigation Agency will show a team of Pakistani officials who reached New Delhi on Sunday for their probe into the attack.
“The NIA in its probe has found that a key JeM handler, Kashif Jan, dropped at least four attackers on December 30 in Shakargarh tehsil of Narowal district in Pakistan, which lies just across the Bamiyal village in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. While dropping the four attackers, the NIA investigators have found that he made at least 17 calls to other key operatives of Jaish-e-Mohammad using a calling and chatting mobile application downloaded on his phone. Not only that, the agency sleuths also managed to get the contact list of his phone... it contained numbers of many key Jaish operatives,” said a Union home ministry official requesting anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the probe.
Sources said the NIA has found that at least one of the attackers who entered the Pathankot airbase called Kashif Jan back.
Kashif Jan is intricately linked with the Jaish top leadership that includes Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother, Rauf.
“The Jaish leadership doesn’t do anything with the permission or approval of Pakistan’s all powerful spy agency, the ISI. Once the Jaish operatives are pushed into India, they may have a certain amount of operational manoeuvrability to choose a target from the list of options of given to them but the overall command remains with the ISI,” said Ajay Sahni , executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management.
Eight persons including security personnel were killed in the airbase attack that lasted more than 80 hours after beginning on Janaury 2.