The Union Home Ministry on Monday gave its approval to the National Investigation Agency to prosecute Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and three others in connection with the Pathankot attack in January. The NIA will now file a chargesheet against the four under Sections 18, 20 and 28 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosives Act and various other sections of the Indian Penal Code, reported The Times of India.
India had alleged Azhar’s involvement in the attack on the Pathankot air base on January 2 that killed seven security personnel and also in the September 18 Uri attacks, where 19 jawans died. Azhar is also wanted by India for his involvement in several other incidents, including the Parliament attack case and bomb blast at Srinagar Assembly in 2001. India had released him after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked in Kandahar in 2001.
Home Ministry officials told The Times of India that the chargesheet will help India seek a ban on the JeM leader. This comes as India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, had accused the international organisation of being stuck in a “time warp and politics” with regard to India’s proposal to ban Azhar. The Security Council had blacklisted the JeM leader and labelled him a terrorist, but opposition from countries, including China, had stalled issuing a ban on him.
China had been using its power in the United Nations Security Council through a “technical hold” to keep Azhar off the list, a move that is seen as a favour to its ally Pakistan, which has also led to friction with India. On November 7, China had said it would continue to oppose India’s bid for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.