Pak-based JeM 'handlers' identified in Pathankot terror attacks

New Delhi: Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, mastermind of IC-814 hijack case, are among four persons identified by Indian intelligence agencies as 'handlers' behind the recent Pathankot attack. 

Besides the agencies here claimed to have found evidence that "conspiracy" was hatched near Lahore, top government sources said today.

Maulana Masood AzharJaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar (R). File Pic/AFP

The details of these four persons have been shared with Pakistan "through proper channel" and India has pressed for stern action against them as a condition for any future talks with Pakistan, the sources claimed.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is understood to have spoken to his Pakistani counterpart ex-General Nasser Khan Janjua and shared all relevant evidences including voice data, they said.

The evidence alleging JeM's involvement in the recent attack may put a question mark on scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talk between India and Pakistan in Islamabad on January 15.

Those identified by Indian agencies are Azhar, Rauf, Ashfaq and Kashim, the sources said. Rauf was mastermind of hijack of Air India plane in Kathmandu, in 1999 which was later taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The eight-day hijack crisis had ended after release of three hardcore militants including Azhar in exchange for the freedom of passengers and crew members who were held hostage.

Asked as to what action India wants Pakistan to take against these four, the sources said they have to be arrested and handed to New Delhi so that they could be questioned in the ongoing investigation.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has recently said there are indications that some of the materials used by the terrorists were made in Pakistan. 

Six terrorists, who had sneaked into the country from Indo-Pak border in Pakistan, had attacked Indian Air Force base in Pathankot during the intervening night of January 1 and 2.

They were killed during a counter-operation by Indian forces that lasted for about three days in which seven security personnel were killed.

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