Indian defence minister keeps himself aloof from Pathankot JIT
NEW DELHI: As Pakistan’s five-member team investigating the Pathankot terror attack received DNA samples of the gunmen from Indian investigators, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar seemed to pour scorn on the visit on Monday.
Press Trust of India said Mr Parrikar had got his hands off the controversy over the Joint Investigation Team’s visit to the Pathankot airbase on Tuesday.
Mr Parrikar said the “crime scene” was under the control of Home Ministry’s National Investigating Agency and it was up to the agency to decide who to allow there or not.
Noting that no permission has been given by the Defence Ministry for entry into the airbase, he said that the “crime scene”, a “non-sensitive” area, has been completely barricaded, including visually, on his orders and no defence asset would be used to facilitate the visit of the Pakistani team.
“However, 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,” Mr Parrikar said replying to questions here on the sidelines of Defexpo.
“We have specifically refused them permission to go anywhere in the airbase,” he said.
He said that as far as the Defence Ministry is concerned, they have issued clear directions that the “crime scene” should be barricaded — visually blocked or obstructed — and that external entry should be given to NIA.
The minister said he had issued the instructions following media reports.
“Whom to bring, when to bring is their responsibility till they complete the investigation,” he said.
“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,” PTI quoted the minister as saying.
Mr Parrikar had earlier publicly spoken against the planned visit of the Pakistani team to the Pathankot airbase. He said the crime scene was least sensitive and a non-functional area except for a hostel for foreign cadres and mess.
“This area is isolated and taken out from airbase till the investigation is completed. Permission to land at airbase has been refused; permission to use any of the defence instruments like vehicles has been refused. Permission to speak to any defence personnel has been refused,” he said, adding these questions should be directed to NIA.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2016