Over 11 months after the ghastly terror attack at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, the National Investigation Agency today filed a charge sheet in the case, naming Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and three others of his organisation as accused.
In a comprehensive charge sheet filed at Panchkula Special Court a year after the attack, NIA has highlighted the role of terror group Jaish in spreading mayhem in India and referred to the nefarious plans of the outfit, sources said.
The charge sheet which also named Azhar's brother Rauf Asghar as accused, alleged that immediately after the Pathankot incident, he had hosted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of Azhar, who was released in exchange for passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.
The charge sheet is likely to be used by India at various international fora to highlight the role of Masood Azhar in Pathankot terror strike carried out on January 2 this year.
Launching of a diplomatic offensive against the Jaish and its chief Masood Azhar has become imperative after China continued to stonewall efforts of India to get UN sanctions against the terrorist and his group.
The Home Ministry had given sanction to NIA to file the charge sheet against Azhar, his brother and the two handlers – Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif – of the four terrorists, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The four terrorists, after entering India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at Pathankot IAF base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and NSG.
The charge sheet named four terrorists involved in the attack.
According to 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) of Pakistan respectively.
The charge sheet 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 Punjab Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, the sources said.
The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a probe.
However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.