Pathankot: India calls Pak bluff, says they agreed on reciprocity
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the JIT visit was on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions.
He emphasised that it was for the first time that the Government of India has received cooperation from Pakistan in form of a JIT visit in investigating a terror attack in India.
Asked about Pakistan Foreign Office statement issued on Wednesday that its JIT was not allowed to meet witnesses from the security forces, he said, “The work of JIT in India was as per the Terms of Reference (ToR), which were agreed between the two governments through their respective foreign offices. They are on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions.”
He also dismissed a Pakistan media report, which quoted an unnamed JIT member as having said that Pathankot terror strike was “stage-managed” by India, saying that government does not respond to any speculative media reports and it will go by what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan officially communicates to it.
Meanwhile, a Home Ministry official, referring to the Terms of Refercence, said: “It was agreed much in advance of Pakistan JIT’s visit that they would not get access to any defence personnel involved in the Pathankot operation.”
According to the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the recent visit of the JIT, it was to interview key witnesses and victims of the Pathankot attack, but there was no mention of access to military or any other security personnel.
Pakistan had on Wednesday said that India did not produce witnesses belonging to the security forces before the JIT.
“The JIT visited the crime scene and also recorded the statements of some witnesses. However, the witnesses belonging to the Indian security forces were not produced before it,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in its first statement on theteam’s return from India.
The ToR state that the JIT would collect, review and document physical evidence regarding the Pathankot incident, collect pieces of forensic evidence for possible matching with specimens of relevant individuals in Pakistan. The team would collect, collate, analyse and document electronic/ digital evidence, visit crime scene and other relevant places related to the Pathankot probe, it says.
“The JIT would share with their Indian counterparts details of the investigation conducted by it upto the time of the visit, get briefing from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) about the investigation conducted by them, besides performing any other task associated with the investigation,” it said.
According to the methodology and timeframe of the JIT, it would interview key witnesses and victims related to the investigation.
“It will visit the crime scene and other relevant places associated with the investigation and collect necessary physical, forensic, digital and other evidence available or in possession of the Indian authorities,” it said.
“The JIT will process evidence in the most professional manner and establish a chain of custody to ensure admissibility of evidence in the relevant court of law. The JIT intends to stay in India for about a week from the date of its arrival,” it said.
As per the Terms of Reference, the Government of India was to make arrangements to ensure a smooth and successful JIT visit.
Under it, India was to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of JIT members and material in their possession and provide access to key witnesses relevant to the investigation and their timely availability. The Indian side was also to make available all evidence in its possession to enable building of a strong prosecution case in Pakistan.
India was to also facilitate the JIT’s visit to the scene of crime and other relevant places and provide appropriate working environment to enable it to carry out its work.
Pakistan had constituted the JIT on February 25, 2016, to probe the January 2 attack on the Pathankot airbase.
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