Despite year-long probe, govt not sure how many militants attacked Pathankot
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has almost prepared the first charge sheet in the Pathankot attack, but the government is still flip-flopping on the number of militants who targeted the airbase.
Minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir told Lok Sabha on Tuesday that only four militants had entered the air force station to carry out the January 2 strike, killing eight people. “Four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village, Akalgarh, and attacked the air force station in Pathankot,” said Ahir, in response to a question.
However, a senior home ministry official clarified later in the day that the government’s stand on the matter has not changed. “Forensic reports confirmed the presence of two more attackers. It was on the basis of these reports that home minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament in March that six attackers were involved. The ministry will make a suo moto correction on Wednesday,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.
Sources said Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has already issued the necessary directions for making the correction in parliamentary records by Wednesday.
Despite undertaking a year-long probe, the NIA is yet to identify the two mysterious attackers who were reportedly killed by National Security Guard commandos while they were hiding in a building at the airbase. No bodies were found at the spot.
The forensic reports cited by Singh were based on two samples recovered from the spot, which reportedly bore human remains. However, apart from that, there has been no corroborative evidence to suggest that six militants had attacked the air base.
The NIA plans to file charges against four attackers and their handlers, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar.