The Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) who had come to probe the Pathankot terror strike are scheduled to reach Pathankot town soon amidst tight security in view of the opposition parties threatening to protest against the visit. The JIT members, who arrived in New Delhi rently and had day-long meetings with National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers, left for Amritsar en route to Pathankot.
Activists of Punjab’s main opposition Congress party and the new entrant in Punjab the Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP party held the protest near a road which is to be taken by the Pakistani probe team. They carried black flags and banners. The banners named officials of the Pakistani team, especially those from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence. Security agencies deputed additional personnel outside the rear part of the air base following the protests to strengthen security.
Authorities at Pathankot airbase said that the visiting Pakistan probe team will be taken only to specific and limited areas within the sprawling Air Force Station (AFS) complex.
The JIT members will be kept away from the AFS’ technical area and shown only those areas where security forces engaged the Pakistani terrorists in the first week of January.
“We have, physically and visually, barricaded the airbase. Tent walls have been erected around the crime scene (shootout site) and nothing else will be visible to the JIT members. Their entry will also be through a special gate through the rear portion of the airbase,” an IAF officer told IANS.
Punjab Police DIG (deputy inspector general) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said that the Pakistan JIT will be taken by the NIA to the site of the gunbattle.
“The team will be provided access to the area of the encounter,” Singh said.
Informed defence sources here said the team members could also be shown the bodies of the killed terrorists kept in a government mortuary.
NIA officers will accompany the JIT members. The JIT will not get to interact with IAF or other defence and security officials and personnel involved in the 80-hour counter-operation by security forces against the terrorists who attacked the airbase in the early hours of January 2.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Panaji (Goa) that the Pakistani team would not have access to the operational area of the airbase, but only the isolated “crime scene”, which has been completely barricaded and fenced. All the terrorists and seven security personnel were killed at the base.
The January attack on the IAF base was the second one by suspected Pakistani terrorists. A group of three Pakistani terrorists had attacked Dinanagar town in adjoining Gurdaspur district on July 27 last year, leaving seven people dead. (IANS)