Obstacle course

22sharadkumar Next move: NIA chief Sharad Kumar with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh | Sanjay Ahlawat

Pakistan's non-cooperation makes it difficult for the NIA to proceed with its investigations into cross-border terror strikes

Tiffany biscuits, chocolates from the Netherlands, a knotted mountaineering rope and new Army fatigues made of fabric that is not available in India. These were some of the evidence gathered by the National Investigation Agency probing the latest cross-border terror strike on November 29 at an Army camp at Nagrota near Jammu. Seven Army men, including two officers, were killed in the attack, which followed a series of cross-border terror strikes unleashed by state and non-state actors from Pakistan.

Sources privy to the investigation said the agency had got leads about two over ground workers (OGWs) of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who ferried the terrorists to the camp in a white Tata Sumo. The NIA is searching for these OGWs to establish the chain of command of the attackers. It is also being suspected that the Nagrota attackers did not travel much on the day of the attack as their Army fatigues looked ‘’freshly worn’’, indicating help from locals or guides.

The NIA has got some leads in the Nagrota probe and also in earlier cross-border attacks like the ones in Uri (September 18) and Handwara (October 6). In case of the Pathankot (January 2) and Udhampur (August 5, 2015) attacks, it has filed charge-sheets. But in all these cases, the main accused are absconding and there is little hope of apprehending them in the near future.

The fate of these cases, including the Pathankot investigation in which the NIA has been unable to send a team to Pakistan to collect evidence, is similar to the investigation into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. “We must not forget that the 26/11 probe in Pakistan is lying suspended. Its masterminds including Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and Lashkar patron Hafiz Saeed and his commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi are roaming freely. If the 26/11 probe has not progressed despite the international pressure on Pakistan, we are walking an extremely tightrope as far as the fate of all the other cross-border terror cases are concerned,” said an investigator.

After 26/11, the Pathankot case is the second one in which New Delhi allowed teams from Pakistan to come and collect necessary evidence to book the culprits. On both occasions, the Pakistani officials collected evidence and returned only to draw a blank as far as progress in the investigation is concerned. “What makes it worse, in the 26/11 trial, the judge was changed eight times,” said a home ministry official.

With bilateral ties at the nadir, the doors of diplomatic cooperation between India and Pakistan remain shut. “We do not expect any reply from Pakistan to the repeated letters rogatory sent to them. Nor do we expect any legal assistance,” said an NIA official.

NIA teams continue to camp at Uri and Handwara trying to find leads to establish the identity of the attackers. Till the probes conclude, the NIA will continue to give itself chances to embarrass Pakistan. It is now getting ready to file the charge-sheet in the Bahadur Ali case. Ali was termed as a ‘’big terror catch’’ by the NIA as he was guided by an LeT control room operating from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and was sent on a suicide mission to Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said the charge-sheet contained some explosive disclosures revealing the complicity of some officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence.

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Topics : #terrorism

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