Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday posed tough questions to the Border Security Force (BSF) and top brass of the Air Force and Army on continued cross-border infiltration and security along the perimeter of the Pathankot airbase, which was breached by terrorists.
Parrikar visited the air base even as forces continued mopping up operation at the airfield following one of the worst terrorist attacks in a defence installation in the country in recent times.
Top South Block sources said Parrikar wanted to find out whether the Defence Security Corps personnel at the Pathankot base had been put on alert after an alarm was sounded by New Delhi on an impending terror attack on January 1 afternoon.
Both the defence minister and home minister Rajnath Singh are extremely perturbed over continued infiltration of terrorists through the international border in Punjab despite patrolling by the BSF and want serious investigation on whether the terror network was mixed up with the thriving drug-smuggling network on the border.
Parrikar also questioned the Western Command Air Force brass on whether the DSC was put on alert and how did the JeM terrorists enter the airbase which had eight feet walls and round-the-clock patrolling.
The fact is that five DSC personnel in barracks were killed in the initial fire by terrorists during shift change, one Air Force Garud commando died in fire fight and NSG bomb disposal head died in a grenade explosion while trying to search the body of a terrorist. This means that only one Air Force jawan died in directly fighting the Pakistani terrorists.
While the NSG managed to kill all six terrorists, there are some unanswered questions in the run-up to the attack. Firstly, killed taxi driver Ekagar Singh received seven calls from Pakistan on his phone on December 31 and his vehicle was found with a puncture at a totally different direction from where he was to pick up a passenger.
The question that is being asked by the internal security establishment is whether Ekagar Singh had gone to pick up the terrorists or was he involved in any drug smuggling network across the border.
Secondly, why did the terrorists not touch the Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh but tried to slit the throat of his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma. Thirdly, the Jaish-e-Mohammed note left by terrorists in the SP’s vehicle talks about attacks in Tangdhar, Samba, Kathua and Delhi in revenge for hanged Afzal Guru. This raises questions if Delhi is the next target of Azhar Masood’s cadres?
# Indian agencies intercept call made by a terrorist to his mother informing about the impending fidayeen attack
# Interception played before NSA Ajit Doval, three military chiefs and intelligence agencies chiefs
# Gurdaspur SP’s vehicle found near air base; as attack appears imminent 168 NSG commandos sent to Pathankot; nine (two more added later) columns of Army troops mobilised to guard strategic air assets, fuel and ammunition dump
# Western Air Commander SB Deo instructed to coordinate counter-terror operations with NSG in lead against terrorists