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Response of security forces comes under a cloud

delhi Updated: Sep 28, 2013 00:29 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Searching questions are being asked within the internal security establishment, after the Jammu fidayeen attack on Thursday, on the response capability of the Indian forces as the 16th Cavalry unit at Samba could have been alerted after the terror strike at Hiranagar police station in Kathua. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists attacked the Hiranagar police station at 6.45am and at the Samba armoured unit, located 18 km away, at 7.50 am.

Top government sources said one of the victims, Roshan Lal Sharma, whose auto-rickshaw was hijacked by terrorists at Hiranagar, said the terrorists infiltrated from across the border through a nullah (rivulet) called Shap that crosses into Pakistan. This nullah is not fenced but the BSF patrols its ingress route to prevent infiltration.

While it is evident that the BSF failed to detect the intruders, the question is whether the Hiranagar police station informed the security forces about the attack at 6.45am and what action did the army unit take to safeguard itself. The incident was communicated to the ministry of home affairs control room at 7.15am.

According to sources, after the terrorists attacked the Hirnagar police station, it took them time to commandeer the truck of Mohammed Maqbool for a strike at the Samba unit. "Many questions remain unanswered. What was the BSF patrol doing? Why no ambush? Did the Hiranagar police issue terror alert on wireless? Why no police or army checkposts were activated to stop the truck from reaching the Samba unit? The truck drove 18 km and more than 30 minutes to materialise the second attack. The security audit is on to find the answers," said a home ministry official.

However, the Samba attack is not an isolated case highlighting the lacunae in the Indian security forces' response. The soldiers were caught unawares or perhaps sleeping at the ambush point when Pakistan army commandos attacked them in the Poonch sector on August 6. The worst case of poor response has been the LeT attack at Hyderpora bypass in Srinagar where 8 soldiers were killed on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Srinagar on June 25.

Government sources said that Hyderpora attack happened despite the then home secretary RK Singh and Intelligence Bureau chief Asif Ibrahim flying to Srinagar to brief the 15 Corps army commander and director general of the J&K Police on June 20, 2013, about the possibility of a terror attack.

National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were flown in to take on the terrorists, who were planning to attack the Shergadi police station.

It is understood that due to faulty planning, the terrorists bypassed the security system and targeted a truck carrying unarmed soldiers returning from vacation. The terrorists belonging to LeT's Abu Qasim group fired continuously for more than six minutes without any response from the security force picket just 100 metres away.