NIA court issues proclamation notice against Masood, 3 others


India, All India

All four have been charge-sheeted by the NIA for their role in planning and execution of the terror strike.

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is accused of masterminding the Pathankot terror attack. (Photo: PTI/File)

New Delhi: An NIA court in Punjab on Tuesday issued proclamation notice against Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed's chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others, asking them to appear before it on March 9, in connection with last year's brazen attack on Pathankot IAF base.

An agency spokesman said the special Court in Mohali issued the proclamation notice against Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asgar, Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan (both handlers of four terrorists who were killed in retaliatory action by Indian forces).

All  four have been charge-sheeted by the NIA for their role in planning and execution of the terror strike on the strategic IAF base at Pathankot on the intervening night of January one and two 2016.

The proclamation notice, which has been issued under section 82 of Criminal Procedure Code, will have to be published in newspapers, including in the country where they are believed to be hiding, which apparently is Pakistan, sources in the counter-terrorism probe agency said.

The NIA, after wrapping up investigation in the case, had filed a charge sheet in December last year against Masood Azhar and three others for plotting the audacious terror strike that left seven personnel of Indian security forces dead and 37 others injured.

The charge sheet also hinted at lax security at the IAF base and said the four terrorists -- Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayoom--all Pakistani nationals and owing allegiance to JeM, had entered the premises at 0840 hours on January one and entrenched themselves in a drain and an adjacent shed belonging to Military Engineering Services.

The terrorists were engaged in a gunfight only at 0320 hours on January two, full 19 hours after they had sneaked into the sensitive IAF facility.

The charge sheet is part of documents used by India for advocating its case for imposing UN sanctions against Azhar, released in 1999 in exchange for passengers of IC-814 Indian Airlines plane, which was hijacked by terrorists.

India, in an unusual move, had allowed a Pakistani team, which included an officer of its notorious spy agency ISI, to conduct a probe at the air base. The team had been handed over necessary documents and allowed to question many people except for security personnel involved in the counteroffensive against the terrorists.

However, the Pakistani team, upon its return, claimed India neither shared "much of evidence" nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved neutralising the perpetrators of the attack.