The NIA on Monday filed charges against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar as the mastermind of the attack and three others for plotting and executing the January 2 terror attack at an IAF airbase at Pathankot in Punjab that killed six Indian soldiers.
The chargesheet filed by the NIA at the Panchkula special court also named Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and two other associates — Shahid Latif and Kashif Jaan. It also contains details of phone conversations that took place between the four terrorists, among other evidence. The chargesheet was filed based on “irrefutable digital, technical, oral and documentary evidences collected,” said NIA Inspector General Alok Mittal.
Adding that the accused in the charge-sheet are all Pakistani nationals, the IG further said that a letter has been written in this regard to Pakistan officials along with a supplementary copy, but there has been no response so far.
Sanction for prosecution has been obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Section 45(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, as amended.
The NIA had technical and forensic evidence pointing to the involvement of Pakistan-based perpetrators in the deadly attack. The US also provided crucial evidence in the form of chats and email conversations of JeM members to the agency.
To arrest the remaining accused, Red Corner Notice had been issued by Interpol against Azhar, Asghar and Latif while a Red Corner Notice against Kashif Jan was in the process of being issued.
The submission also named four attackers – Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum – all residents of Pakistan.
In its formal charges, the NIA said the seven Jaish operatives set up training camps in Pakistan and in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for recruitment and training of terrorists to work against India.
India is likely to use the chargesheet to push for designating Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a move China continues to stonewall.
The government had launched a diplomatic offensive against the Jaish and its chief Masood Azhar after China continued to spurn New Delhi’s efforts in getting UN sanctions against the terrorist and his group.
The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a thorough probe.
However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.