New Delhi: Pakistani team probing the Pathankot strike on Thursday completed recording statements of the witnesses and were also handed over some more documents which included DNA report of the four militants killed in the 80-hour gun battle with government forces.
The Joint Investigating Team (JIT) of Pakistan headed by additional inspector general of police, Counter Terrorism Department, Muhammad Tahir Rai, and also including ISI’s Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, began their day by recording the statements of witnesses in the case, NIA sources said.
They questioned 16 witnesses in all, including a superintendent of police-rank officer of Punjab Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal.
The three were kidnapped by the Pathankot attack perpetrators belonging to the banned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on the intervening night of December 31 and January one.
The militants had allegedly dumped Verma after slitting his throat and continued their journey with Singh and Gopal before jettisoning them a few kilometres away from the strategic air base at Pathankot.
The militants entered into the air base and mounted the brazen assault on the intervening night of January one and two. In the fierce encounter that ensued, seven forces personnel besides four militants were killed.
The Pakistani JIT had asked NIA to hand over swabs of four militants identified as Nasir Hussain (Punjab province), Abu Bakar, (Gujranwala), Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum (both from Sindh). However, the Indian anti-terror probe agency handed over to the visitors the DNA report of the militants and asked them to match those with their family members, NIA sources said.
“Talks are at a conclusive stage and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon everything will be over,” Director General of NIA Sharad Kumar said here.
Besides recording the statement of the three, the JIT also spoke to the caretaker of a shrine visited by Singh before he was kidnapped, policemen and members of the public who spotted the abandoned hijacked vehicle.
Statements of a couple of doctors who conducted the post-mortem were also recorded.
The NIA has already handed over a list of 300 questions besides seeking voice samples of Jaish Chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf and Khayyam Baber (mother of slain Nasir). Nasir was claimed to have spoken to his mother during the attack.
The NIA sought access to Azhar and Rauf and told the visiting team that till the time India’s request was pending with authorities in Islamabad, it would like the Pakistani JIT to question them about their role in the attack on the air base and hand over their statement to the Indian agency.
Kumar said the Pakistani side informed the NIA team that one of the Jaish handlers Kashif Jaan, who is believed to have accompanied the militants up to the border was missing ever since his name surfaced and assured that Pakistani police was looking for him.
NIA also identified another Jaish militant Shahid Latif as one of the handlers of the Pathankot perpetrators and sought his thorough interrogation, Kumar said, adding details about ‘Al Rehmat Trust’ run by JeM were also sought from them.
Details of two websites, which carried a message of Abdul Rauf after the strike, were also shared with them and they were asked to provide details for the same, he said. Both the websites have gone off the Internet.