NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday chargesheeted Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and two others as main accused in the January 2 Pathankot air base attack, giving a clean chit to the controversial Punjab police officer Salwinder Singh who was also under the scanner.
In the chargesheet filed within a year after the attack, the Central probe agency named four terrorists who had stormed the air base and killed seven soldiers, contrary to earlier claims by the Union home minister Rajnath Singh that there were six terrorists and not four.
“Azhar has been named as the mastermind in the chargesheet. All the four have been charged with stringent sections under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other relevant sections of the IPC,” a senior NIA official said, adding Salwinder has been made a witness in the case.
The four slain terrorists have been identified as Nasir Hussain, a resident of Vehari, Pakistan, Hafiz Abu Bakar, a resident of Gujranwala, Pakistan, Umar Farooq, a resident of Sanghar, Pakistan and Abdul Qayum, resident of Sukkur, Pakistan. A prosecution against them has been abated since they are dead.
The probe has established that “the terrorists entered into a criminal conspiracy to infiltrate into the territory of India and to commit the terrorist attack and wage war against the Government of India.”
In pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, the accused persons, their leaders / handlers and co-conspirators including Masood Azhar, Abdul Rauf Asghar, Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif, had set up training camps in Pakistan and the PoK area, for recruitment and training of terrorists, in order to carry out terror attacks on the Indian soil, the chargesheet said.
“During the training, these terrorists were made to undergo extensive motivational, physical, military and tactical training regimen, to radicalise them and to prepare them for Jihad,” said the chargesheet which was filed before a Punjab court.
It further said they illegally crossed the Indo-Pak international border through the forest area near the Simbal Border outpost. Empty food packets manufactured in Pakistan and other food articles from Pakistan were recovered from the forest area near the Simbal Border during the investigation.
China has twice blocked India’s efforts to include Azhar on the UN’s sanction list containing names of individuals. The Security Council had blacklisted the JeM chief and labelled him a terrorist but opposition from China had stalled issuing a ban on him.
“India is likely to use the chargesheet at various international fora to nail Pakistan’s lie,” a senior North Block official said.
NIA director general Sharad Kumar claimed that agency had collected irrefutable evidence against JeM terrorists and its chief Masood Azhar and it will pass scrutiny in any court of law.
“It was a very important case and we have collected all the evidence to nail JeM terrorists and its chief. Our team has done a scientific investigation in the case and we have technical, physical, digital and documentary evidence to prove their guilt,” he said.
The chargesheet includes 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 Gurdapur SP Salwinder Singh.
The chargesheet said that immediately after the attack, Rauf had posted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of his brother.
“It has also been established through legal intercepts and statements of witnesses, that Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif had guided, equipped and launched the four terrorists, who carried out the terrorist attack at the Air Force Station, Pathankot, killing and injuring innocent persons and destroying public property. The recoveries from the crime scene, material and documentary evidence, forensic reports and extensive call data analysis, conclusively establish the complicity of the terrorists of JeM, in the attack at the Pathankot Airbase,” the chargesheet said.
The list of witnesses includes the names of Mohammed Sadeek alias Muviya, a resident of Ghalotiakalan in Pakistan's Sialkot district and Abdul Rahman Mogul, a resident of Polas village of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir's Poonch district. The duo had helped in identifying voices and at least two bodies of the slain JeM terrorists. Others in the list include a Special Agent of FBI and an official of US Department of Justice who had executed the Indian request sent under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty for seeking the details from social networking company Facebook and other websites hosted by companies from that country on which Jaish had uploaded an audio file claiming responsibility for the attack.
NIA has also submitted statements of six other witnesses in a sealed cover before the court along with a prayer that the names of these persons be kept secret under section 44(3) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 17 of NIA Act (provision for the protection of witnesses).