Pathankot, March 29 (IANS) A Pakistani panel on Tuesday visited various locations, including a part of the IAF base, in Punjab to retrace the movement of suspected Pakistani terrorists who attacked it.
The Indian Air Force base was attacked on January 2, leading to the death of seven Indian security personnel and all the attackers.
The five-member Pakistani team was taken to various locations along the route taken by the terrorists by NIA officials.
The Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reached the frontier air force base campus on Tuesday amid vociferous protests by activists of opposition parties.
The team reached the rear side of the sprawling air base in a mini bus accompanied by NIA officials and surrounded by Punjab’s Police’s elite SWAT commandos.
Protests by Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activists erupted near the front gate of the Pathankot base on Tuesday morning as the Pakistan team headed towards it.
The demonstrators were about three kilometres from the base.
They carried black flags and banners, and shouted “Go Back” slogans.
AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and S.S. Chhotepur led the protests.
Tight security arrangements were in place to protect the JIT members from the protestors.
The Pakistan team, which entered the base through a specially created entrance in the peripheral wall of the Air Force Station (AFS), was taken only to specific and limited areas within the complex.
The JIT members were kept away from the AFS’ technical area and shown only those areas where security forces engaged the Pakistani terrorists in January.
The JIT members, who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday and had day-long meetings with National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers, left for Amritsar on Tuesday morning en route to Pathankot.
“We have, physically and visually, barricaded the airbase. Tent walls have been erected around the crime scene (shootout site) and nothing else will be visible to the JIT members. Their entry will also be through a special gate through the rear portion of the airbase,” an IAF officer told IANS.
Informed defence sources here said the team members would also be shown the bodies of the killed terrorists kept in a government hospital mortuary.
The JIT was not allowed to interact with IAF or other defence and security officials and personnel involved in the 80-hour counter-operation by security forces against the terrorists.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday in Goa that the Pakistani team would not have access to the operational area of the base, but only the isolated “crime scene”.
The January attack on the IAF base was the second one by suspected Pakistani terrorists.
A group of three Pakistani terrorists had attacked Dinanagar town in adjoining Gurdaspur district on July 27 last year, leaving seven people dead.