Pathankot: Will Pak Cooperate or Will It Be a 26/11 Probe Repeat?

Will the Pathankot terror attack probe lead to a dead end, if Pakistan refuses to cooperate?

3 min read
Will the Pathankot terror attack probe lead to a dead end, if Pakistan refuses to cooperate, just like the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks probe? (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/ The Quint)

Will the Pathankot attack probe face a deadlock similar to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks probe? Will Pakistan share details of the terrorists, whose links have been traced back to the country? These are only a few of the questions which some senior investigators have started grappling with. The Quint has learnt from top intelligence sources that the government, without much delay, has shared 5-6 phone numbers of the handlers with the Pakistan government. These phones calls were made by the terrorists from cellphones they snatched from the Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police, and two others accompanying him.

According to the government official we spoke with, the terrorists had snatched at least four mobile phones after hijacking the vehicle of Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend, and his cook. At least two of these phones were used to call handlers in Pakistan. The official further informed that these phone numbers, along with the voice recordings, form the most crucial part of the evidence, essential to gain further intel on the attackers.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi received a phone call from his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, assuring full cooperation in the investigation. But one can’t help wonder if it’s just lip service.

We will believe in their cooperation, only if they respond to our queries on evidence that we have shared. Verbal assurances mean nothing.

Official, Intelligence Bureau

A Repeat of the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks Probe?

Unlike the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, security personnel failed to capture any fidayeen alive in Pathankot. As of now, the investigators don’t even know the names of the terrorists. There’s not much other information either, except for the fact that the terrorists most likely belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad, as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said. Hence, to obtain more details, the government will depend on Pakistan as all evidence leads there.

Some may say it’s too early to ask if this will be a repeat of the Mumbai attacks probe. But the fact is that Pakistan didn’t cooperate with the Indian government even then. They never shared the voice samples of the men they claimed to have arrested in connection with the attacks. According to a senior official in the Ministry of Home Affairs, if the voice samples of those arrested were provided, it could have been matched with the recordings to show that many voices on the tapes don’t match with the samples, proving the actual handlers are still free.

Pakistan arrested small fries like the people who helped in the purchase of boats, just to show that they are cooperating with the Indian government. But till date they haven’t shared details of the handlers who were in touch with the terrorists in Mumbai. Unfortunately, all the handlers of the 26/11 terror attacks are still free and alive.

Ujjwal Nikam, Public Prosecutor, 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks

On the other hand, Director General, BSF DK Pathak has said that they are working on strengthening the security cover at the Punjab international border though it is still not clear how the terrorists managed to cross the border.

According to sources in the Air Forces, security has been beefed up in all Air Force bases across the country, and will continue to be so till further orders.

The NIA Begins Investigation

SWAT team at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot during the terror strike. ( Photo: PTI)
SWAT team at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot during the terror strike. ( Photo: PTI)

The NIA began collecting evidence at the Pathankot air base after the area was handed over to them by the army on late Tuesday afternoon. So far the NIA has registered three separate FIRs, one on the Pathankot terror strike, kidnapping of the Gurdaspur SP, and the murder of his driver.

We are working in close coordination with the Punjab Police. We are in the process of collecting evidence and will soon record statements of all the crucial witnesses.

Senior Official, NIA

The investigators are also suspicious about the conduct of the Gurdaspur SP, who was let off alive by the terrorists. But the truth will emerge only after his statement has been recorded and investigations follow.

We will ask Pakistan to share the voice samples with us. One of the terrorists was talking to his mother who is settled in Pakistan.

Sharad Kumar, Chief, NIA

A scientific expert team of the NIA will collect evidence from the spot. Out of the six terrorists, four bodies were recovered, while two others were found dismembered. The NIA plans to send a letter rogatory to Pakistan with all the evidence that points towards the terrorists’ link with the country.

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