The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will bring Punjab police officer Salwinder Singh to Delhi “in a day or two” for thorough questioning over the Pathankot airbase attack, a senior home ministry official said on Wednesday.
The NIA decision came on a day the elite investigating agency’s chief Sharad Kumar visited Pathankot to oversee the investigations into the four-day siege of the strategic air base.
The decision to bring in the Gurdaspur superintendent of police was indicative of the fact that the investigating agency was not fully convinced about his claim of being abducted by a group of armed men and having his vehicle snatched.
“The NIA questioned Salwinder Singh along with his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and helper Madan Gopal for hours in Pathankot in connection with the attack. The NIA is verifying each and every aspect of what he is telling interrogators. He has been taken to key spots like where he was abducted and dropped,” said a senior home ministry official requesting anonymity.
On December 31, Singh and his companions claimed that they were overpowered by terrorists and the vehicle they were travelling in was hijacked by them. The superintendent, in his complaint to the police, said one of the terrorists drove the vehicle after hijacking it.
Though NIA officials remained tight-lipped about the accuracy of Singh’s statement, sources said that a few gaps have come to light, necessitating his questioning in Delhi.
It is being suspected that the weapons used by the terrorists may have come separately in a drug consignment and later handed over to the attackers. The NIA is also probing this aspect.
Sources said that during the day, an NIA team questioned Singh inside the Sadar police station and searched the XUV which was allegedly snatched by the terrorists.
The NIA also have questioned the SP’s friend Rajesh Verma.
Terrorists may have crossed the border through Bamial village as people found footmarks which were later ascertained to be from Pakistani footwear brand ‘Epcot’, sources said. At least one of the six terrorists killed in Pathankot was wearing the same brand of shoes.
NIA chief Sharad Kumar will also visit Bamial on Thursday.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday briefed the Union cabinet about the terror strike.
(With inputs from HTC Chandigarh)