New Delhi | NIA had summoned three persons, including SP of Punjab Police Salvinder Singh for questioning in connection with the Pathankot terror strike as the agency is still awaiting a Letters Rogatory from the Pakistan side so that the evidence could be shared with them legally.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials said that Salvinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal have been summoned for a routine questioning as the agency is preparing to receive a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) from Pakistan on March 27.
This is a routine investigation as some formalities have to be completed before a charge sheet is filed in the case, the officials said. NIA has conducted a lie-detector test on all the three and given them a clean chit.
All the three were allegedly kidnapped on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 allegedly by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, who had launched an audacious attack on the Pathankot IAF base on January 1 morning.
While Verma was left on the road with a slit throat, Gopal and Singh, currently posted as Assistant Commandant of 75th battalion of Punjab Armed Police, were released some distance away before the terrorists left for the air base.
The terrorists were engaged in an 80-hour gunbattle with the security forces at the IAF base from the intervening night of January 1 and 2. Seven security personnel were killed, while four bodies of terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed were recovered.
Confusion relating to other two bodies still remains with NIA now contemplating to send samples afresh to second CFSL laboratory. Meanwhile, NIA is still awaiting a Letter Rogatory from a Pakistan court so that the evidence collected during the probe can be handed over to the SIT legally.
NIA had also released photographs of the four terrorists killed during the operation with description of their height. The anti-terror probe agency has said one of the terrorists did not have toes in both the feet. The pictures have been circulated and the public asked to share information about them. Anybody giving relevant and correct information would be rewarded up to Rs one lakh, NIA has said.
The agency has already approached the Interpol for issuance of ‘Black Notice’ for the four. The international notice is issued for identification of unidentified bodies found in a country. About the remaining two, NIA is planning to approach another forensic laboratory for conducting a fresh test of the samples recovered from the Pathankot base.
The forensic laboratory in Chandigarh had said it had found human remains in the samples handed over by NIA. It will take some time before the identity of the remaining two is acertained, an official source said, hinting it may not be possible before the Pakistani SIT’s visit to India.
The SIT will be arriving here on March 27 and will be holding consultations with NIA about the probe conducted so far, the sources said. India has already sent a Letters Rogatory to Pakistan seeking certain details about the four terrorists.
India has been seeking details of the phone numbers dialled by the four terrorists ahead of the attack on the airbase on the intervening night of January 1 and 2. The numbers are believed to be in the names of people connected with Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group, including Mullah Dadullah and Kashif Jaan.
The numbers shared belong to the Pakistani telecom operators like Mobilink, Warid and Telenor. NIA has also sought details and picture from Khayam Baber of her son who was part of the suicide squad that carried out the attack.
Kashif Jaan, one of the key handlers of the attackers, had accompanied the terrorists till the border, the sources said. The bodies of the four terrorists have been preserved. Out of the four, two of them have been identified as Nasir and Salim.
Nasir was the one who had called his mother Baber in Bhawalpur using the phone snatched from the jeweller friend of Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh. NIA has also given details, including the batch numbers, of food packets used by the terrorists after infiltrating into India on December 30.
The terrorists had carefully buried the packets which had Pakistani markings and manufacturing dates of November and December 2015, the sources said.