Pathankot attack: NIA teams visit J&K, quizzes Punjab cop

Pathankot attack: NIA teams visit J&K, quizzes Punjab cop

Pathankot attack: NIA teams visit J&K, quizzes Punjab cop
 Widening the probe in Pathankot terror attack case, NIA teams today visited Samba and Kathua areas of Jammu region where similar strikes had taken place last year and quizzed for the second day a Punjab police officer who was allegedly kidnapped by terrorists hours before the assault on the air base.

NIA sources said a team of the agency today visited the army camp in Samba on the Jammu-Pathankot highway where two terrorists had opened fire on March 21 last year. Both the militants were shot dead by security forces, while three people including a major were injured in the gunbattle.

Another team also visited Kathua where Rajbagh police station was attacked by a group of militants a day before. Three security personnel, two militants and as many civilans were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.

They said the agency could spot "glaring" similarities in the modus operandi of the terrorists, who attacked installations in Kathua and Samba and those who mounted the brazen assault on Pathankot IAF base on the intervening night of January one and two this year.

In a related development, the NIA has asked mobile telephone service providers to submit details about the calls made using three particular towers which give coverage to the IAF base in Pathankot, after initial probe indicated that the terrorists had entered the restricted area in the morning of January one, sources said.

They said officials of Defence Security Corps and others responsible for handling entry and exit at the base were being questioned to ascertain possible lapses that allowed the terrorists to enter the restricted areas without being noticed.

Meanwhile, questioning of Salwinder Singh, a superintendent of police rank officer, continued for the second day today at the NIA headquarters, with the agency claiming he has been changing statements quite often.

NIA has also summoned Somraj, caretaker of Panj Peer Dargah in Punjab, which Singh had claimed to have visited before he was kidnapped by terrorists, who attacked the Pathankot Air Force base hours later.

The shrine is located a few kilometres from Bamiyal, the village from where the terrorists were suspected to have infiltrated India before mounting the attack.

Somraj's statement that Salwinder Singh had came to the shrine for the first time before the attack and that his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and his cook Madan Gopal had visited the dargah twice the same day had raised eyebrows as the police officer had earlier claimed he was a regular visitor to the place.

Singh continued to face tough questions from from interrogators who have been asking him about various "loop-holes" in his statement given to Punjab Police wherein he had claimed he had been blindfolded by the terrorists who spoke in Hindi, Urdu and Kashmiri languages.

The NIA has already summoned Madan Gopal to its headquarters tomorrow for questioning. Sources said, if needed, he will be brought face to face with Singh, posted as Assistant Commandant of 75th battalion of Punjab Armed Police after he was removed as SP (headquarters) Gurdaspur.

The terror probe agency has sent his mobile phone to Central Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain details of calls made from it possibly by the terrorists involved in the 80-hour gun battle with security forces.

The central agency had launched investigation immediately after terrorists struck inside the IAF base on the intervening night of January 1 and 2.

NIA also recovered a magazine with seven live bullets from the scene of encounter at the IAF base today.
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