India, Pakistan investigators meet over Pathankot probe, political storm erupts

As investigators from India and Pakistan met here on Monday over the probe into Pathankot attack, a political storm erupted with opposition parties hitting out at the Modi government over the visiting team including an ISI official being allowed to go to the IAF base there tomorrow.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016, 00:59 AM IST

New Delhi: As investigators from India and Pakistan met here on Monday over the probe into Pathankot attack, a political storm erupted with opposition parties hitting out at the Modi government over the visiting team including an ISI official being allowed to go to the IAF base there tomorrow.

The visit by Pakistan's five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) marked the first such trip from the neighbouring country to probe a terror case in India.

Congress said "unfettered access" given to Pakistan's five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) by according an almost "red carpet welcome" raised serious questions on procedural propriety in relation to compromise on national security and likened it to an accused investigating himself.

Endorsing the stand taken by Congress, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "surrendering" to Pakistan by allowing its investigators to probe the Pathankot attack and said instead Indian probe agencies should have gone to that country where "actual masterminds are sitting".

Amid the political slugfest, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar sought to downplay the row, saying the JIT has been refused permission to enter the strategically important IAF base at Pathankot while a National Investigating Agency(NIA) source said the JIT will get only limited access to the "crime scene" as part of investigations.

For the record, NIA Inspector General Sanjiv Kumar said the JIT will be taken to different locations associated with Pathankot attack case tomorrow.

"The exercise is aimed at providing evidences to Pakistan's JIT so that all those guilty for the Pathankot could be prosecuted effectively in Pakistan," he told reporters tonight.

NIA Director General Sharad Kumar earlier said the meeting between the two sides took place in a cordial manner and the Pakistani side was "cooperative" during the day-long deliberations,

A day after their arrival, the JIT members reached the NIA headquarters here after which they were briefed about the probe carried out so far.

Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said by allowing the JIT to visit the IAF base the Modi government has "recognized" that Pakistan does not have any role in perpetuating terror in India.

"Arrival of Pakistani JIT to look into Pathankot terror Attack, unfettered access being provided and almost red carpet welcome being accorded to the Pakistani team along with visit to Pathankot Airbase without even a 'Letter Rogatory' from Pakistan raises serious questions with regard to procedural propriety and genuine apprehensions vis-a-vis compromises on 'National Security'," Surjewala said.

The JIT is headed by Chief of Punjab's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai and comprises Lahore's Deputy Director General Intelligence Bureau Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence official Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanveer.