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Pathankot police launch search ops after panel warns of fresh attack

Police on Wednesday conducted a pre-dawn search operation in villages surrounding the Pathankot Air Force Station, a day after a parliamentary panel cautioned the Centre of another terrorist strike at the airbase.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2016 18:58 IST
Vinay Dhingra
The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs said on Tuesday it has informed the Centre of the possibility of terrorists hiding in villages close to the “vulnerable” Pathankot airbase and that it can come under fresh attack.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs said on Tuesday it has informed the Centre of the possibility of terrorists hiding in villages close to the “vulnerable” Pathankot airbase and that it can come under fresh attack. (Sameer Sehgal/HT File Photo)

Police on Wednesday conducted a pre-dawn search operation in villages surrounding the Pathankot Air Force Station, a day after a parliamentary panel cautioned the Centre of another terrorist strike at the airbase.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs said on Tuesday it has informed the Centre of the possibility of terrorists hiding in villages close to the “vulnerable” Pathankot airbase and that it can come under fresh attack.

“After going back from Pathankot, we made our suggestions to the government and said that there can be a further attack on Pathankot... We were told by the villagers that some terrorists were still hiding in the villages there,” chairperson of the committee P Bhattacharya told reporters.

The panel visited the airbase and its surrounding villages in February after it was attacked by heavily-armed Pakistani militants, who killed seven security personnel before being eliminated in an eighty-hour long encounter on January 2.

Read: Terrorists hiding near Pathankot: Rijiju downplays speculations

Bhattacharya also said that the government has alerted the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indian Army and handed over the security of the airbase to them after the recommendation of the committee.

Nearly 300 Punjab police personnel led by Pathankot senior superintendent of police Rakesh Kaushal cracked down on the Gujjar settlements near the airbase wall at 5am and at least 30 villages in the vicinity were combed by the different teams led by three deputy superintendent of police of the district.

Senior police officers, who were involved in the operation, said nothing suspicious was found.

“We quizzed many villagers, including those from the Gujar community, and have been informed that no such presence is being felt in the area,” SSP Kaushal told Hindustan Times.

Read: No clean chit to Pak official machinery over Pathankot terror attack: Rijiju

Kaushal, who later met the GOC, BSF officials and other security agencies, also said that all the agencies have denied the presence of any suspected militant in the area.

“As nothing can be ruled out and we are taking every input seriously, so we conducted this surprise combing today morning,” he said.

Sources, however, denied the deployment of the CRPF, BSF and the army to guard the airbase. They said it is being guarded by the Indian Air Force security and its commandos.