Free Press Journal

Pathankot attack: NIA gets nod to prosecute Masood Azhar


New Delhi: The Home Ministry has given sanction to National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file a charge sheet against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others in the Pathankot terror strike carried out on January 2.

After receiving sanction under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the NIA will name Azhar, his brother Rauf Asghar, and handlers of four terrorists — Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif in the charge sheet to be filed soon, official sources said.

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The four terrorists, after entering into India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike inside the strategic Pathankot Indian Air Force base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and NSG.

The fresh charge sheet will help India in building pressure on the international community to declare Azhar and his organisation a global terror group under the United Nations’ anti-terror laws. The previous attempts were spurned after China exercised its veto power.

The charge sheet will name only four terrorists involved in the attack as against six claimed by the NSG.

According to the NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) districts of Pakistan respectively.

The NIA’s probe will also included looking into the phone numbers and a conversation that one of the terrorists had minutes before launching the attack besides a video message of Rauf released on Jaish-affiliated website minutes after the strike. In the video message, which was subsequently removed from the website, Rauf had claimed responsibility for the Pathankot attack.

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The charge sheet will also include evidence of linking the footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal besides matching of DNA sample found from a soft drink can in the hijacked car of Punjab Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh.