India's NIA to prosecute JeM chief Masood Azhar for Pathankot terrorist attack

New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Nov 28, 2016, 01:48 PM IST

Despite many rumours, Azhar's whereabouts have been officially unknown since a 2016 attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot in Punjab, India. Photograph:(AFP)

India's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday sanctioned the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to prosecute Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and three others for attacking an  Indian Air Force base in Pathankot earlier this year.

Azhar is also wanted by India for the attack on an army base in Uri in September. JeM terrorists are believed to be behind the attack that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.

Kashmir-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed is viewed by the Indian intelligence agencies as the principal terrorist organisation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The group has been deemed as a terror outfit by India and US.

After the Pathankot attack, which claimed the lives of six soldiers, India had approached the UN Security Council (UNSC) to designate Azhar a terrorist, submitting a detailed dossier of his terrorist activities since 1993.

Its efforts were blocked by China, a permanent member of the UNSC and a key ally of Pakistan, which put the application on 'technical hold' at the last minute. China was the only member of the 15-member UNSC to do so.

Besides India, the US, the UK and France had also "co-sponsored" the resolution seeking Azhar's listing as a terrorist.

After the Pathankot attack, a joint investigation team from Pakistan arrived in India for conducting a probe into the attack. However, after they returned, they claimed that India did not co-operate in the investigations and wanted to tarnish its image.

(WION with inputs from agencies)