As Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistan spy agency infamous for its alleged support to terror attacks in India, made its maiden overt presence on Indian soil, curious citizens tried to catch a glimpse of “ISI da banda” (Punjabi for ‘the ISI man’).
The sleepy border town of Punjab was abuzz over the visit of Pakistan’s joint investigation team (JIT) to carry out a first-of-its-kind terror probe at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base with locals wanting to catch a sight of the “ISI agent” and his fellow sleuths from across the border. There were also protests by political parties.
After newspapers and television channels flashed stories about the visit of the five-member JIT, which also included an official of the ISI, residents of this frontier town were either glued to the TV for information on the movement of the team or decided to make a trip “as close as possible” to the IAF base.
“We have only heard about some agents or ISI moles being picked up by police or intelligence agencies from this area in the past. ISI agents have also been portrayed in a number of Hindi and other regional films, but for the first time it has been officially known that an ISI man is in the town. The curiosity is obvious,” Prakash Sharma, a bookstall owner near the Pathankot railway station, said.
He said though news reports talked about the arrival of the Pakistani team along with Indian NIA officials as part of the probe on the terror attack on the forward airbase early this year, there was no clarity as to when and how they would be travelling.
Hotel owner Surya Prakash told PTI that the visit of the Pakistani team which includes an “ISI ka banda” has made people curious.
“There are reports that the Pakistani officials will be taken to the border area in Bamiyal near here from where it is suspected that the terrorists sneaked in to launch the attack on January 1-2. People have lined up the approach road to at least catch a glimpse of the convoy and capture it on their smartphones,” Umesh Bhatia, a local medical student said.
The visiting Pakistani JIT, which landed 500 km away in Delhi on Monday, is led by additional inspector general of police Muhammad Tahir Rai from Pak Punjab’s counter-terrorism department (CTD), and has ISI’s Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Lahore’s deputy director general, intelligence bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Pak military intelligence Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD investigating officer Shahid Tanveer.