A Pakistani team in India to probe the terror attack on Pathankot’s airbase woud not have access to the base per se but only the isolated “crime scene”, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.
Parrikar said the defence ministry had “refused permission” to the visiting probe team to access the base. “The crime scene has been handed over to the NIA. Who they want to bring there is their call.”
Parrikar said only the National Investigation Agency (NIA) can tell whether it is taking the Pakistan probe team to the crime scene.
The Pakistani team comprising five intelligence and police officials is expected to reach Pathankot in Punjab on Tuesday.
The crime scene, where terrorists from Pakistan killed seven security personnel on January 2, has been handed over to the NIA and has been isolated.
But it lies within the sprawling Indian Air Force complex.
The minister said the area has been fenced, has no contact with the base and even has a separate entry.
“The area is isolated, taken out of the airbase, and completely barricaded.”
He added that the Pakistani team has been given no permission to interact with any defence personnel or use any defence vehicle during its Pathankot visit.
“The directions are very clear. The crime scene should be barricaded, visually blocked. External entry has been given to the NIA. Who they bring in is their responsibility,” the minister said.
“If we don’t give (NIA) the freedom for investigation, the burden of failure will come to the defence ministry,” Parrikar added.
The Pakistani officials arrived in Delhi on Sunday to probe the January 2 terror attack. The team will travel to Pathankot on Tuesday, informed sources said.
All the terrorists and seven security personnel were killed at the base.
Parrikar had so far kept quiet on the issue as the air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, had said that the IAF had no objection in allowing the Pakistani team if the government agreed.
Raha also said that the IAF wanted a closure to the case.