Pathankot Attack: Troubling Questions for India’s Security Forces

Militants entered the Pathankot air base in two groups, sources inform.

3 min read
Security personnel during their operation against the militants who attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

Could the Pathankot terror attack have been averted? This question has haunted most of us, ever since reports emerged that security agencies were alerted before the terror attack.

A senior official in the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that one set of militants entered the Pathankot air base before the Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh was kidnapped by another party. According to the officials, militants entered the air base in two groups. The first group comprised two militants, who positioned themselves inside the air base on 1 January, before the SP was abducted. The second was composed of four militants who kidnapped the SP and two others.

The jeweller, who was travelling with the SP, told us that while he was in the militants’ custody, he overheard their telephonic conversation which clearly implied that some militants had already entered the air base.

Senior Official, Ministry of Home Affairs

The two militant who first entered the airbase waited for the other four to reach the spot. After all the militants entered the base, they first targeted the mess. In the sudden attack on the mess, three security officials were killed, while four were killed in the cross firing.

Since the militants managed to jump the high walls of the airbase, it was certainly a breach of security. Securing the assets was our primary concern, and our army was entrusted with this task.

Senior Official, Ministry of Home Affairs

According to the official, the SP was not taken seriously because of a poor track record. He also added that the National Investigative Agency (NIA) has registered three FIRs – one on the kidnapping of the SP by the militants, a second on the murder of the SP’s driver, and a third on the terror strikes. The question which remains unanswered – why was the SP let off unharmed by the militants?

Are Smugglers in Punjab Assisting Militants with Weapons?

An army person guards during the operation against the militants at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Monday. (Photo: PTI) 
An army person guards during the operation against the militants at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Monday. (Photo: PTI) 

Sources have told The Quint that the militants were carrying weapons in large quantities, and that it is very difficult for them to cross the border with such a load. Prima facie, it seems that the smugglers network supplied weapons to the militants on the Indian side.

The AK 47s that the militants were carrying were different. They weren’ that sophisticated, but improvised versions. NIA is investigating the matter. It is certainly very crucial for us to find out how they managed to enter the air base with such huge quantities of ammunition.

Senior Official, Ministry of Home Affairs

The surge in smuggling of drugs from Pakistan to India through the porous border in Punjab has increasingly become a concern for the government. The attack on the Dinanagar police station a few months ago is yet another example of how easy it is for terrorists to cross the Punjab international border. Is there a crime-terror nexus?

Though the investigators have no clear answer to this question, it cannot be ruled out that growing terror attacks in Punjab have become worrisome.

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