The faction-ridden Punjab Congress is busy playing the game of one-upmanship even as the state comes to terms with the revisiting of terror.
Not known to be a "street fighter", former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, stumped state party president Partap Singh Bajwa by reaching Dinanagar the day after the terror attack in the Gurdaspur town, accompanied by most legislators from the district.
Not popular among leaders of his own home district, Bajwa, a former MP from Gurdaspur who lost the seat in 2014, visited the area on Wednesday along with Congress general secretary in charge of Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmed. The warring leaders batted for different sides on the handling of the operation. Bajwa on Tuesday had hit out at Punjab Police for their "unprofessional" way of dealing with the terror attack, saying they had fought terrorists in "T-shirts and pajamas" without bulletproof jackets and not allowed the army to take over. The army, he had said, would have finished the operation in an hour where the police took 12 hours or so.
A day later, on Wednesday, Amarinder hailed Punjab Police, saying there was no need to involve the army. In a press statement, he questioned the logic behind the suggestion that the army should have been brought into the operation. "I am surprised over so much fuss in certain quarters over not involving the army when Punjab Police were competent to do the job, which they did so well with great confidence and courage, and even sacrificing their lives," he said.
He added that the way Punjab Police commandos and SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team carried out the operation had not only boosted the morale of the police across the state but also reaffirmed people's faith in their capacity and competence. "I am surprised over the wisdom of the people who wanted to involve the army to flush out just three terrorists," he remarked.
Amarinder pointed out that there were five police commando battalions in Punjab, besides the specially-trained SWAT. "If the army has to be involved in all such operations, then what are the commandos and SWAT for?" he asked, asserting that Punjab Police have eliminated militancy in the past and proved again that it continues to have the vigour and the morale to face any challenge successfully.
Amarinder had been on a parallel state tour this month after Bajwa had started his mass-contact programme in June. The Captain's team is trying to project him as a street fighter and an all-weather politician to take on Bajwa, and not without success.
Police laxity led to attack: MLA Sodhi
Chandigarh: Punjab Congress vice-president and Guru Har Sahai legislator Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi has blamed the Gurdaspur terror attack on the "laxity on part of the state intelligence and lack of alertness on part of the police".
In a press statement issued here, Sodhi said Punjab had not witnessed any terror attack since the-then Congress government had wiped out militancy from the state more than two decades ago. "The police personnel were carrying weaponry of the vintage era, whereas the terrorists had latest arms. The state leadership is least bothered about modernising the police," he said.
He accused the chief minister of first allowing drug trade to flourish in the state and then blaming the Centre for not sealing the international border. He said CM couldn't get away by saying that security at the border was the responsibility of the Centre, "since his job is not just to hold sangat darshan".