New Delhi, Mar 28: Investigators from India and Pakistan met here today over the probe into Pathankot terror attack even as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the visiting team has been refused permission to enter the IAF base there tomorrow amid a political slugfest.
The visit of Pakistan's five-member Joint Investigative Team(JIT) that includes an ISI official marked the first such trip from the neighbouring country to probe a terror case in India.
A day after their arrival, the JIT members reached the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters here after which they were briefed about the probe carried out so far.
The meeting between the two sides took place in a cordial manner and the Pakistani side was "cooperative" during the day-long deliberations, NIA Director General Sharad Kumar said. The JIT, which is headed by Chief of Punjab's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai, raised several questions about the probe which were answered by the NIA team which has been probing the case regarding the 80-hour long gun battle at the IAF base between Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed(JeM) terrorists and security forces.
The visit of Pakistani probe team has triggered a political slugfest with opposition Congress criticising the Government for exposing its defence assets to Pakistan.
However, Parrikar sought to downplay the issue and said the "crime scene" at the Pathankot airbase was with the NIA. "...an area where the actual crime had taken place had been handed over to NIA long back which is conducting the entire investigation. Who will be taken there, who will probe, depends on the decision of NIA," Parrikar said replying to questions in Goa on the sidelines of Defexpo.
"We have specifically refused them permission to go anywhere in the airbase," he said and added that he had issued clear directions that the "crime scene" should be barricaded -- visually blocked or obstructed -- and that external entry should be given to NIA.
In the same breath, Parikar also sought to defend the visit saying "if I don't permit them this crime investigation freedom, then the crime investigation failure would be blamed on the Defence Ministry. We have isolated the area completely."
The Pakistani side was briefed about the investigations about linking some of the people associated with Jaish in that country behind the conspiracy and all questions pertaining to the involvement of the group were also answered to the satisfaction of the visiting side.
The Pakistani delegation also comprises an ISI officer Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed besides Lahore's Deputy Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Military Intelligence official Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer, Shahid Tanveer.