Lahore: Three members of the banned Jaish-i- Muhammad, who were among the over 30 arrested in Pakistan as part of a crackdown on the outfit in the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack, have been charged in an anti- terrorism court today for possessing jihadi literature.
Law enforcement agencies had reportedly taken 31 suspects of Jaish-i- Muhammad (JeM) in connection with the Pathankot attack from different parts of Punjab province including Bahawalpur, the hometown of JeM chief Masood Azhar, who is believed to be the mastermind of the attack on the Air Force base in Pathankot. Only three of those arrested were produced before the Anti-Terrorism Court of Sialkot, around 100km from Lahore.
The three suspects, however, were not charged in connection with the Pathankot attack and instead were charged for possessing jihadi literature. The suspects were produced amid high security before the ATC.
Judge Chaudhry Imtiaz Ahmed granted a three-day physical remand of the three JeM members to police for interrogation. The suspects were arrested by the Counter Terrorism Department from a seminary run by the JeM in Mundeyki, the headquarters of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-u-Dawah.
Meanwhile, a source in the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab police, said, “As the JeM suspects have been picked up in a sensitive matter (Pathankot attack) all of them cannot be produced before a court of law till the completion of the investigation.
” The source said till the completion of the investigation by a high-powered committee constituted by the federal government to probe the Pathankot attack none of the suspects would be charged in connection with the incident.
Media reports in Pakistan had said earlier that a number of JeM activists, including Azhar and his brother Rauf, had been taken into custody in connection with the Pathankot incident. However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had stated Azhar has been taken into “protective custody” along with his accomplices but is “not arrested”.
Confusion still prevailed over whether Azhar had been detained in connection with the Pathankot terror attack that led to deferring of Foreign Secretary-level talks this week. India has sought action by Pakistan on the evidence provided for apprehending the JeM terrorists suspected to have been involved in the January 2 attack.
India had linked the fate of the talks to action by Pakistan.