A Pakistani probe team got a sneak peek of the Pathankot air base on Tuesday as it retraced the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists’ trail during the audacious attack on one of India’s frontline defence installations in January.
A five-member joint investigation team (JIT) from Pakistan, which includes an official from the country’s Inter Services Intelligence spy agency, was in Pathankot to assist India’s probe into the attack on January 2.
But the team, the first to investigate a terrorist strike on Indian soil, was given limited access to the base during its hour-long visit to the prominent defence hub with officials from India’s anti-terror wing, the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The team was flown from New Delhi to Amritsar on a special aircraft and brought to Pathankot in bullet-proof vehicles. It arrived at 11.25am under tight security and was ushered in through a make shift gate in the rear wall that the terrorists had scaled to enter the base.
Congress and A am A ad mi Party supporters shouted anti-Pakistan slogans when the team was driven to the rear gate. They criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for facilitating the visit of the “perpetrators” of the attack.
At the base, sensitive military hardware were under wraps as the IAF pitched tents at certain stretches to block the view.
The Pakistani officials were taken to an area spread over 300 metres where security personnel engaged the terrorists. They were shown the building in which two terrorists were holed up and later detonated bombs.
The NI A team and Punjab Police deputy inspector general (border range) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh gave the Pakistan team ano verview of the operation.
The Pakistani investigators tried to reconstruct the sequence of events with a visit from airbase to Akalgarh village, 2km away, where the terrorists had abandoned the hijacked vehicle of Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh prior to the attack.
The team was then escorted to Kathlaur Bridge, where taxi driver Ikagar Singh’sbody was found. The terrorists had murdered him and taken his vehicle to cover some distance to the base.
Next up was Kolian village, the site where the terrorists had hijacked Salwinder’s vehicle and tied him up along with his jeweler-friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal.
Finally, the investigators went to the Bamial sector along the international border. They were shown the direction from where the suspected to have sneaked into India, but the team was neither taken to the border nor shown the fence.
The JIT was told about the arms and ammunition, and gear with Pakistani markings, found on the slain terrorists. Autopsy reports of the killers were also shown before the team flew back from Amritsar to New Delhi around 6pm.