By gunning down three heavily armed terrorists in the dawn-to-dusk offensive at Dinanagar on Monday, Punjab Police have sent a strong message to terror groups about their ability to hit back hard.
When reports poured in early morning that fidayeen (suicide squad) had stormed a police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district and were leaving behind a trail of blood and bodies, director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini had to take a tough and tactical decision - whether the police should take on the terrorists or leave it to the army. Saini, who has played a key role in ridding Punjab of terrorism, decided that his force would take on the intruders, even as the Centre was keen that the men in green should take over from the men in khaki, sources in the government have said.
DGP leads by example
The DGP was himself in the thick of action, camping inside the battle zone with his men, coordinating and directing the police offensive. The army had reached the spot and was ready with its choppers hovering over the battleground, but the police decided to go solo and take army's assistance only as a last resort.
"The Union government had also offered to move in National Security Guards (NSG) but Punjab Police wanted to prove that they had the expertise to handle any situation. All the officers taking part in this operation were battle-hardened soldiers of the state's fight against terrorism. We are grateful for the army's assistance, though," said a senior political leader of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Aim was to catch terrorists alive
A senior cop who was part of the action said the aim was to catch the terrorists alive. "But they were too determined, and waiting for the night to fall. We had to use heavy firing and grenades to kill them," the police officer said. Earlier, when the three terrorists barged into the Dinanagar police station around 5.30am, the police reaction was swift. By 6am, they had cordoned off the area and trapped the terrorists in. Had the terrorists sneaked out of the police station area, they would have created mayhem," said a cop.
Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini addressing after the media after the Gurdaspur terror attack operation ended. Sameer Sehgal/HT
The police quickly called reinforcement from the border range around Dinanagar. From their SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team) commandos stationed at Amritsar for training with the NSG, 28 moved into the battle zone and teamed up with police commandos to gun down the terrorists -reinforcing public confidence in state police's potential to fight terrorism.
The heavily-armed militants kept the cops engaged all day and the police also responded with precision. Not only the DGP but also other senior officers such as the inspector general, DIG and senior superintendent of police (SSP) were in the fight. Since the intruders had sophisticated weapons, loads of ammunitions, and even GPS (global positioning system), they didn't let the cops relax. They had the wireless system of the police station, and so could eavesdrop on the communication between the cops deployed outside.
The fidayeen, it is reported, also took ammunition from the station's armoury to sustain the gun-battle for 11 hours until the final assault around 3.45pm. As they stopped firing, the police opened heavy gunfire and lobbed grenades into the corners where they were hiding.
Cheers broke out after the area was recaptured and the bullet-riddled bodies of the terrorists were spotted.