The Who, What, Why, When, Where and How of the Gurdaspur Attack

Amid all the cacophony, here’s the what, where, when, who, why and how of the Punjab terror attack.

Updated
India
3 min read
Policemen take their positions next to a police station during a gunfight at Dinanagar town in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab. (Photo: Reuters)

Nine people have been killed, including at least three policemen, in an attack by unidentified assailants in Gurdaspur, Punjab. Amid all the frenzy, here’s what you need to know about the attack.

What and When?

The assailants began their rampage by opening fire at a roadside eatery, before driving off in a Maruti Alto. They then killed a man who was sleeping on a pavement on the Dinanagar bypass and attacked a moving bus, in which four people were injured.

Five live bombs were also recovered from the Pathankot-Gurdaspur railway track.

Their next set of targets included policeman and their families. The attackers first killed three people at a health centre near the Dinanagar police station, including a policeman and a woman.

They also entered the police station and opened fire, injuring five policeman.

The attackers holed up in a residential complex where police personnel reside. The army and security forces engaged in a gun battle with them.

According to news reports, three police officers and all four of the terrorists have been killed in the exchange. 

Who?

Four men dressed in army fatigues arrived at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district in a Maruti Alto car. They were carrying automatic weapons. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Given that this is the first terror attack of this scale in Punjab in decades, there are fears that there is a resurgence of insurgency in the state. Punjab has been largely free of such violence since the 1990s.

Dinanagar is about 15km from the Pakistan border, giving rise to theories that the attackers are either from, or affiliated to groups from Pakistan.

Where?

Map of Dinanagar area where the terror attack took place.
Map of Dinanagar area where the terror attack took place.

Dinanagar is just a stone’s throw away from the Pakistan border and just 35 minutes from Pathankot, a cantonment town with a heavy military presence. The proximity of Gurdaspur district to Pakistan has raised suspicions that the attackers came from across the border.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), it is highly unlikely that the attackers came from Kashmir given the multiple layers of security in the state.

Security forces including the army and NSG commandos have been deployed. Jammu has been heavily fortified and many places, including Delhi, Pune and Mumbai have been put on high alert.

How?

The MHA, and former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah have both remarked on the similarity in modus operandi of the attackers to other terror attacks in the Jammu region.

The attackers targeted a railway track, innocent civilians and the police. Each of these targets is meant to undermine state authority and strike fear into the populace.

They also have access to automatic weapons and explosives. The brutality, sophistication and planning behind the operation shows that attackers are highly trained. They even managed to engage in a protracted gun battle with security forces.

There have also been conflicting reports on whether the attackers had taken hostages. While CNN-IBN reported that it was suspected that there was a hostage situation, MoS at the Home Ministry Kiren Rijiju said that there have been no such reports.

However, the MHA has kept a tight lid on the details so far.

The Who, What, Why, When, Where and How of the Gurdaspur Attack

Why?

While the identity and affiliations of the attackers are yet to be established, it is possible to glean their aim from the nature of the attack. Their targets were civilians and those meant to protect them. Clearly, the effort is to undermine the Indian government and strike fear among its citizens.

However, further clarity on their motives will surely emerge once their identity is known.

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