New Delhi: Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, mastermind of the 1999 IC-814 hijack case, are among four persons identified by Indian intelligence agencies as ‘handlers’ behind the recent Pathankot attack.
Besides, the agencies here claimed to have found evidence that the “conspiracy” was hatched near Lahore, top government sources said today. The details of these four persons have been shared with Pakistan “through proper channel” and India has pressed for stern action against them as a condition for any future talks with Pakistan, the sources claimed.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is understood to have spoken to his Pakistani counterpart, Lt Gen (Retd) Nasir Janjua and shared all relevant evidence, including voice data, they said. The evidence alleging JeM’s involvement in the recent attack may cast a shadow over the scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan scheduled for Islamabad on January 15.
Those identified by Indian agencies are Azhar, Rauf, Ashfaq and Kashim, the sources said. Rauf masterminded the hijacking of Air India flight IC-814 plane in Kathmandu, which was later taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The eight-day crisis ended after three hardcore militants were released, of whom Azhar was one, in exchange for the freedom of passengers and crew members who had been held hostage.
Asked about the action India wants Pakistan to take against these four, the sources said they will have to be arrested and handed over to New Delhi so they could be questioned in the ongoing investigation.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently said there had been indications that some of the materials used by the terrorists were made in Pakistan. Six terrorists who had sneaked into the country across the Indo-Pak border had attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot during the intervening night of January 1 and 2.
They were killed during a counter-operation by Indian forces that lasted for about three days in which seven security personnel were killed.