After 10 persons were killed in twin terror strike in Jammu Kashmir on Thursday, serious questions are being raised about security lapses and response capability of the security establishment.
According to the account of an autorickshaw driver who was forced to ferry the terrorists at gunpoint, he could not find a single checkpost despite driving the armed militants around for almost an hour in an area which is quite close to the international border. The terrorists boarded the auto at Harya Chak, about 10 km from the international border.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists struck at Hiranagar police station at 6.45 am and at the Samba armoured unit, situated at a distance of 18 kilometres, at 7.50 am after they commandeered a truck.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah pulled up top officials for the "lapses" in containing the terror attack at a meeting on Friday. The security establishment drew flak from Omar for the "non-adherence" of Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) in containing the audacious attacks.
Inspector general police (Jammu Zone) Rajesh Kumar also accepted the security lapse. “Yes it’s a fact that the auto was not checked at any point. There is definitely some lacuna in the security set up.” The terrorists were armed with AK 47 assault rifles and GPS.
“They pointed their gun at me and asked me to take them to a GRPF or an army camp. One terrorist sat with me while two were in the back. I took a longer route and a couple of detours in a bid to find a police check post. However, despite driving about 40 km, I could not find a single check post,” said the auto driver Roshan Lal Sharma.
The terrorists asked him to stop after they spotted Hiranagar police station. Sharma jumped from the auto to save his life and the militants fired at him. He is undergoing treatment in Jammu at present.
After attacking the police station, the terrorists travelled another 15 km before targeting the army camp in Samba. While the police and the CM maintain it was a case of fresh infiltration, people in the area had reported some suspicious movements about 15 days back. The police launched a combing operation but to no avail.
The attacks came ahead of talks between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of UN general assembly in Washington. A senior intelligence official on the condition of anonymity said there is a pattern of terror attacks before high profile Indo-Pak meetings.
“There was a general intelligence input about possibility of an attack before the talks. The input was not specific but security agencies should have been vigilant and put up check posts,” the official said.
IG Rajesh Kumar, however, denied any such intelligence input.
A four-tier security system at the international border comprises the Border Security Force, the army, the local police which is assisted by special police officers and the village defence committees.
“As no terror attack was reported from the area in a long time, a sense of complacency had sneaked into the system. There were no regular drills and standard procedures were not being followed,” said the official.