Wrapping up investigations in the Pathankot airbase attack case, NIA on Monday filed a charge-sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January two audacious terror strike that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.
The charge-sheet was filed in the NIA court at Panchkula in which all the four have been slapped with charges under Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Besides Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and two handlers –Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan –have been named in the exhaustive charge sheet. While Interpol Red Corner Notice against three has been issued, the same was pending against Jan, the NIA said.
The charge-sheet will also put to rest speculation about the number of terrorists involved in the attack as the agency gave details of only four militants. There was confusion about the number of terrorists as Defence Minister Manohar Parikar and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had informed that the number was six.
The charge sheet also hinted of lax security at the strategic IAF base in Pathankot and said that the four terrorists –Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayoom–who were Pakistani nationals belonging to Jaish, had entered the premises at 0840 hours of January 1 and entrenched themselves in a drain and adjacent shed belonging to Military Engineering Services. The terrorists were engaged in a gunfight only at 0320 hours of January 2, 19 hours after they had entered the IAF base.
The charge sheet is likely to be used by India in advocating its case for imposing sanctions against Azhar, released in 1999 in exchange of IC-814 hijacked Indian Airlines Plane, under the United Nations anti-terror law, officials said.
The terror case saw an unusual move from India and Pakistan as Islamabad had sent its probe team to Pathankot.
They were handed over all the documents and allowed to question everyone except security personnel involved in foiling the attempts of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said that the process of extradition of Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others will begin soon with the filing of a charge-sheet by the NIA in connection with terror attack at Pathankot airbase.