The Punjab Police superintendent of police Salwinder Singh -- who was allegedly abducted by terrorists before being left off--Tuesday said that had he had his weapon and gunmen with him he would have killed the terrorists he met on the fateful night of December 31 when he was abducted by them. Facing a departmental inquiry into a complaint of sexual harassment against him the SP had been transferred to Jalandhar two days before the incident happened. In an interview with HT, the SP says he did his best in the circumstances and the fact that he was alive is nothing short of a miracle.
Q: Why do you think you and your cook were thrown off your vehicle alive by the terrorists?
A: I don’t know. They tied me and the cook and threw me out thinking we will not be able to move away. They did come back to kill me when they realised who I was but by then I had got away.
Q: Do you think you could have done more in the circumstances given that you are a policeman and you were confronted with terrorists?
A: I did not have any weapon. Nor were my gunmen with me. Had they been with me or had I been carrying my gun, I would have killed the terrorists. When I was thrown off the car, I did my best in untying myself and locating the nearest village where I called my seniors. My input to the Punjab police minimized the loss of life at the hands of Pakistani untras as the police immediately laid nakas and search started in the area.
Q: But your seniors did believe you. Why?
A: I did my duty in informing my seniors whatever happened to me. It is for them to take subsequent action on my information. Whether they believed me or not, I don’t know, only they can answer this question.
Q: Can you recount the manner in which you were picked up?
A: It was New Year eve and I had gone to the Khwaja peer dargah in village Kolian where I go regularly. I was returning to Gurdaspur with my cook Madan Gopal and my jeweller friend Rajesh Verma who was driving. We were asked to stop by four-five army men. They were clean shaven and in their 20’s. They asked us to switch off the lights of the vehicle. The moment we put the lights off, one of them dragged Rajesh out and packed him into the boot of the car. I was asked to squat in the space between the first two row of seats and Madan between the rear two rows of seats. They spoke in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. They told us that if we moved, they will kill us. I realised they were terrorists. They were armed with AK -47s and had back packs on their shoulders. They snatched one my mobile phone and tied my hands behind me and a cloth around my face. After about 45 minutes of travel during which we could not see the road at all, they dumped me and Madan at an unknown place. There wa which i later at Gulpur Simbli village under police station, Kanwan in Pathankot district after.
Q: How did you get away from there?
A: I kept still for about ten fifteen minutes thinking that the terrorists are around us. But when I did not hear anything I tried to move my wrists. The knot was loose and I got free. Then I freed Madan and we crossed a small nallah, reached a track, crossed another nallah and reached a road. There we saw car lights approaching us. We were so scared thinking that it could be them again that we hid. I was totally puzzled. Then I realised that my other phone was still with me. I called up my senior officers then who asked me to inform the police station. I called 100 number and got everything noted down.
Q: Did the terrorists come to know that you are an officer?
A: They did not know I was an officer. Rajesh told me later that they came to know when my gunman Head Constable (PR) Kulwinder Singh rang up from my residence in Gurdaspur to the phone the terrorists had snatched away from him. The terrorist asked my gunman to whom he had called and the gunman told the terrorist that he wanted to speak to his Saab (SP), then the ultra cut the call. Had they come to know about my official position, they would have eliminated me.