How The Govt. Handled The Pathankot Attack Showed Its ‘Confusion And Under-Preparedness’

Posted on January 4, 2016 in News, Politics

News by YKA Staff:

Confusion and under-preparedness marred the government’s response to the Pathankot terror attack, news reports suggested on Monday, January 3rd.

Indian army soldiers stand guard near the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab, India, January 3, 2016. A gold medal-winning Indian shooter was among 10 people killed in an audacious pre-dawn assault on the air force base, officials said on Sunday as troops worked to clear the compound near India's border with Pakistan after a 15-hour gunbattle. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX20UF5
Indian army soldiers stand guard near the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot. Source: REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

Last checked, government sources claimed that one of the two terrorists who continued to engage security forces in gunfire while being holed up in the Pathankot airbase had been killed.

Responsibility for the attacks has been claimed by United Jihad Council, a terrorist conglomerate of 13 groups based in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Top government sources said the neutralised terrorist was one of the two who were hiding in a two-storey building, a living accommodation for the security personnel. Still there is no clarity on the exact number of terrorists involved in the attack and whether the terrorist eliminated today was the fifth or the sixth terrorist to be neutralised since Saturday when the terror attack began.

Even on Monday morning, Inspector General of National Security Guards (NSG) Maj Gen Dushant Singh told a press conference here that, “Till now, we have eliminated four terrorists and operation to eliminate two more terrorists, possibly, is in the final stage of conduct”.

Lack of accurate information with the government about the number of terrorists and the status of the operations which began in the early hours of Saturday was the target of attack by the Congress.

Hitting out at the government over the handling of Pathankot terror attack, Congress today said “conflicting” statements on the incident showed “breakdown of institutional mechanism” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “concentrated” all powers in his hands.

Leading the party’s charge, Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed the internal security situation as “serious” and hoped that the Centre was taking all necessary steps to neutralise terror threats.

Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken went hammer and tongs against the government alleging that institutional mechanism stands “demolished” and the government is “in (the) dark”.

Maken also criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he had concentrated all power in his hand, which was hurting the security interests of the country. He also demanded to know if the Cabinet Committee on Security had met following the attack in Pathankot.

“The institutional mechanism, which has to respond in such serious situations has been demolished as the Prime Minister has concentrated all powers in his hand. CCS is one of the examples to show the Prime Minister is trying to do everything from PMO and even concerned ministers are not being kept in the loop,” Maken alleged.

As operations against two remaining terrorists at Pathankot air base continued, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said on Sunday that he was unsure if more militants were still holed up. The comments by Mehrishi came a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted saying the operation had been completed with the killing of five terrorists. Singh later deleted his tweet.

Reports suggested that despite the abduction of a Punjab police Superintendent, security agencies waited before raising an alarm and alerting the state’s security machinery as they were not entirely convinced about the seriousness of the situation.

Terrorists may have entered the campus before an alert was sounded while crucial hours were lost in verifying the Punjab Police SP’s claims about his abduction by the attackers, security agencies said.

“We suspect the terrorists must have entered the air base on the morning of January 1 while the alert was sounded a few hours later in the evening,” they said.

A few hours were also lost in verifying the inputs provided by Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh, who has claimed that he was kidnapped along with two others by the terrorists, the sources added. Sources said that police officers whom the SP had informed about the terrorists initially did not take him seriously, thus leading to some crucial hours being lost.

Security agencies are suspecting there were six terrorists and they were divided into two groups — one of 4 and the other with 2 members. The four in the first group were killed on Saturday while the two members of the second group were fighting till last reports came in. Sources said that the final count of terrorists involved in the attack would be clear following the completion of the operation.

They also, meanwhile, added that the level of training of the Pathankot terrorists seems even better than that of the Mumbai 26/11 attackers. It is clear from the tactics that these terrorists have employed that a professional army had trained them, they said.

The terrorists used all the tactics of professional fighters like conserving firepower, attacking at 3 AM when the level of alertness is at its lowest and going quiet to give the impression that all the attackers had died. All these tactics are of military precision, the sources said.

With the driver of the Toyota Innova vehicle, Ikadar Singh, having been picked up by the terrorists from a spot near Gulpur-Samboli, 5km away from the International Border, it is being suspected that they crossed the border near that area. The terrorists had later killed the driver.

The National Investigation Agency, will probe the Pathankot attack.

Meanwhile,  heartrending scenes were witnessed on Monday as martyrs of the Pathankot terror attack were given a final farewell with full military honours in the presence of hundreds of people who converged to pay their tributes to the brave-hearts.

Slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ rented the air as the body of Garud commando Gursewak Singh, draped in the tricolour, reached his native Garnala village near Ambala, while the family members of the young Sikh, who was married in November, were inconsolable.

The body of Lt. Colonel E. K. Niranjan, a bomb expert with the National Security Guard who was killed while defusing a grenade at the scene of the terror attack at Pathankot IAF base, was brought to Bengaluru from where it was to be taken to his hometown Palakkad in Kerala.

Teary-eyed people filed past the body as the martyr’s family members sat near it. “He was always interested in the army. I am proud of his sacrifice,” Niranjan’s father Sivarajan said. He hailed from Palakkad in Kerala and is survived by his wife Dr Radhika and an 18-month-old daughter. He was among seven security personnel killed in the terrorist attack there.

In Gurdaspur, Punjab, scores of mourners gathered at the house of Subedar Fateh Singh, 51, a shooter who had won Commonwealth medals. Singh’s daughter Madhu joined the soldiers in carrying the body to the cremation ground.

“What my father has done today, I don’t think anything can match it. I am proud of my father,” Madhu said.

It is clear from the government’s tardy and weak-kneed response that it has been caught on the back foot in the face of the fresh attacks by terrorists who are intent on derailing the talks between the two countries – Indian and Pakistan. Despite a similar attack in Dinanagar, Punjab last year, the government’s response has been found wanting. It is pertinent for the government to control the itch to gain publicity from every attempt made to improve relations with the neighbouring country. At the same time, it needs to step up its game when it comes to crucial issues of national security. To start with, enhanced security is required at the border, along with better intelligence gathering.   At the same time, it needs to show better preparedness if an attack takes place instead of putting up a sorry show.