March 29:With Centre under attack over allowing a Pakistani probe team access to Pathankot air base, BJP chief Amit Shah Tuesday said Pakistan has for the first time made ‘serious efforts’ towards investigating a terror case.
A five-member Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) visited Pathankot today to continue their probe into the January 2 attack, where seven Indian military personnel were killed by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists, even as Congress and AAP intensified protests against the visit.
The JIT team accompanied by NIA officials entered the strategic airbase from its rear side after their convoy stopped at ‘Upper Doaba’ canal here and the members took a mini bus to travel through the dirt track next to the water body.
“First let me make clear one thing, that the Pakistan team which has come related to the probe, has a limited access to periphery. They will not enter the air base nor will they interact with the officials of the Army. They will investigate other things,” Shah said here.
“I agree that for the first time Pakistan has made serious efforts towards investigation. The results will be known after the investigation gets over,” Shah said during a media interaction at Press Club.
The team, officials said, was taken to only the ‘scene of crime’ where the encounter occurred between the security men and terrorists and the entire process was videographed by two IAF personnel.
However, Congress said that according an almost ‘red carpet welcome’ to JIT raised serious questions on procedural propriety in relation to compromise on national security and likened it to an accused investigating himself.
AAP said instead of allowing Pakistan’s investigation team to visit India to probe Pathankot attack, Indian security agencies should have been sent to Pakistan to investigate the role of masterminds ‘enjoying hospitality of Pakistan Government not only after Pathankot attack but after Mumbai attacks too’.
Protesters carrying placards and black flags shouted slogans outside the base.
A large number of security personnel, including Punjab Police SWAT team, were also deployed in view of the visit. Officials said the JIT visited the sanitised areas of the IAF base where the attackers had sneaked into leading to the over 80-hour gun battle.
Earlier on Monday, India officially handed over to Pakistani officials evidence that Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed is the terrorist group it suspects was behind the attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, throwing the ball in Islamabad’s court to bring the probe to its logical conclusion and ‘act against the terrorists’ taking shelter on its soil.
The NIA gave a detailed presentation of the 48-hour battle with terrorists to the JIT — including an ISI official — as it shared evidence collected by it that nails the role of terrorists operating from Pakistani soil who ‘planned and executed’ the terror attack at the sensitive airbase.
The JIT accepted the evidence, paving the way for the Pakistani team to visit the attack site.
Among the evidence shared by the NIA were some phone numbers, including those of Rauf, brother of Jaish chief Masood Azhar, and companies which had supplied packed food to the terrorists. India also gave the reasoning behind naming people connected to Jaish-e-Mohammed, including Mullah Dadullah and Kashif Jaan. Their phone numbers (of Pakistan telecom operators like Mobilink, Warid and Telenor) were also shared. Kashif Jaan, one of the key handlers of the attackers, had accompanied the terrorists to the border, the sources said.