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No Evidence of Pakistan Govt Hand in Pathankot Attack: DG NIA

File photo of security men in Pathankot

File photo of security men in Pathankot

Investigation so far does not point to any inside hand

New Delhi : There is no evidence so far to indicate direct complicity of government of Pakistan or Pakistani agencies in the Pathankot attack said Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) Sharad Kumar. "No evidence to show that Pakistan government or Pakistani government agency was helping Jaish – e –Mohammed or Masood Azhar or his aides carried out the Pathankot attack." Sharad kumar said NIA has completed its India leg of investigation and is waiting for Pakistan to allow the NIA team to visit Pakistan to complete the investigations.

Sharad Kumar said, "we are hopeful," when asked if Pakistan will allow NIA visit on the basis of reciprocity. He also clarified that charge sheet in this case will be filed even if Pakistan did not give NIA access. "We have sufficient and stringent evidence against Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf Azhar and we will include those in our charge sheet," the DG added.

Full text of the interview:

On Pathankot

Q: Coming to the Pathankot Investigations now. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called Pakistan’s lack of response to request for NIA visit a betrayal. How much of a setback is to you? Will there be any chargesheet in this case if NIA does not investigate in Pakistan?

A: We are looking forward to visiting Pakistan but will have to wait for the green signal from the government. We have wrapped up our investigation on the Indian side and we hope to cement it by investigation in Pakistan. As far as chargesheet in this case goes, we will file a chargesheet even if Pakistan does not allow our team to visit. We have sufficient and stringent evidence against Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf Azhar and we will include those in our charge sheet.

Q: Have you found any evidence that government of Pakistan or any Pakistani government agency was aiding the terrorists to enter India and attack Pathankot?

A: No. So far no evidence to show that Pakistan government or Pakistani government agency was helping Jaish or Masood Azhar or his aides carry out Pathankot attack

Q : Any inside help to terrorists in Pathankot?

A: Investigation so far does not point to any inside hand

Q: But were there lapses in securing the air base? If there was no inside help then this is a clear breach that in spite of the intelligence alert terrorists managed to enter so easily and hold country to ransom for close to 5 days.

A: That is for the government to see. We are an investigating agency. We are investigating the case as a crime. we will not recommend any action for lapses or security breach.

Q: What is the conclusion your investigation has reached as far as Salwinder Singh’s, the Punjab Police SP is concerned? Is he now a witness or still a suspect?

A: Don't want to comment on his role as accused or witness. At the time of filing chargesheet we shall reveal what his status is. But at this point don't want to give him a clean chit

Q: There were allegations made about him being part of a narcotics racket.

A: We did not find any narcotics angle to Salwinder Singh. We searched his house. Sent sniffer dogs but did not find any evidence to support these claims.

Q: And what about his version about why he was present at the carjacking spot on the fateful day?

A: We have verified and found that whatever he said is correct.

On Malegoan Probe

Q: After your chargesheet on Malegaon 2008, several reports have doing the rounds that in Samjhauta blast case too you will change track and perhaps spell out the Lashkar-Arif Qasmani link. Any realistic chance of a supplementary charge sheet in that case?

A: No possibility of supplementary chargesheet. Trial is going on. There is no scope for further investigation. We are not investigating Arif Qasmani's role in this case. There is no evidence to suggest that he was responsible for the Samjhauta express blast in any way.

Q : So you are convinced that Swami Aseemanad and other accused named in your charge sheet are responsible for the Samjhauta express blast?

A: We are convinced that people chargesheeted are the people guilty. Charge sheet was not filed under me but by officers who were in charge back then. They must have been convinced and NIA stands by that chargesheet

Q : But there a lot of common links between 2008 Malegaon blast and cases like Samjhauta, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid. If you have recommended discharge for some accused in Malegaon, will it not impact your other cases?

A: No. Some accused are common but Malegaon 2008 is a separate case. It is wrong to say that all are part of one grand conspiracy. Like Swami Aseemanand is not part of Malegaon 2008 case. But yes some common accused like Ramji Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange are common. They wanted to take revenge for all the attacks against Hindus. They are wanted in both Samjhauta and Malegaon. Similarly Aseemanand is common to Samjhauta, Ajmer and Mecca cases. So there are some common accused in all cases but conspiracy is separate. Investigation is separate.

Q: Just as some accused are common, some witnesses are also common in these cases. And many of them are turning hostile. How will it impact your cases?

A: If you create false witnesses it is bound to create problems. ATS in 2006 Malegaon chargesheet implicated Batterywala. He was sitting 450 km away. Court has also pronounced it judicially in the 2006 Malegaon blast. Some witnesses turning hostile will not impact the case. In some cases like Mecca Masjid no witness has turned hostile. 82 people have been examined so far in Samjhauta, Ajmer and Mecca trial which is on. In Malegaon 2008, trial has not begun so we can’t say who will turn hostile there.

Q: So you are confident of conviction in all these so called saffron terror cases?

A: We are hopeful

Q: How do you respond to criticism that you deliberately set free Sadhvi Pragya thakur, ignored evidence against her and recommended discharge under political pressure.

A: Let the court decide. We are not saying anything; witnesses are saying they were tortured to implicate people. They said this when UPA was in power. Sudhakar Dwivedi was quoted by ATS in 2008 to say that he testified about a meeting where plan to make a bomb was executed. When he was produced before magistrate for authentication of statement he denied making any statement pertaining to making bombs.

Two others went to court (first class magistrate Indore) in 2009 and said we have been tortured to give statement against Purohit. Dharmendra Bairagi key witness also said the same thing. Dr R Singh proved he was in Faridabad when he was shown to be in Bhopal by ATS. Nitin Joshi wrote to Maharashtra Human rights commission in 2009 that he was tortured to implicate Purohit, Sadhvi and others. All this happened when UPA was in power. Even before NIA took over the case. So how can we be accused of damaging the case now? Or acting under political pressure?

When we accessed the court of enquiry report against Purohit we were lead to examination of Indian Army Subedar- Pawar and a Lt Colonel Praveen Khanzode who testified that they saw Maharashtra ATS Assistant Inspector Bagde coming out of Sudhakar Chaturvedi's house in suspicious circumstances. After some day traces of RDX was found at Sudhakar's house. This made the recovery doubtful

Q: Congress party has alleged that you have been given an extension after retirement as DG NIA because you assured the current government of doing its bidding in all these cases. A Google search will tell you that no police officer since 1947 has been given an extension as a director general post retirement.

A: I don’t know so much history, but don't want to comment on these baseless allegations. We are working very professionally. Neither this nor previous government interfered in my work. I was appointed before the NDA government came to power based on my professional aptitude. All allegations being made now are baseless. Performance of NIA as an organization is exemplary. 92% conviction rate speaks for the organization.

On ISIS and India

Q : How serious is the ISIS threat to India?

A: Not very serious but matter of concern. We have investigated 5 cases of ISIS. We will file charge sheets in these cases in a few weeks. Most of the accused seem to be misguided youths who have been radicalized by radical elements on the internet. Shafi Armar is one of the important man behind this online campaign to radicalize Indian youths. We believe he is in Syria but can't deport or extradite him because very little is known about him at this moment.

first published:June 02, 2016, 19:05 IST