Even as Punjab deputy chief minister and home minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and director general of police Suresh Arora had spoken of building a second line of defence in the state, especially in the border areas, after the Pathankot attack, the Amritsar Police do not seem to have learnt any lesson.
This HT Correspondent roamed the city and found that major parts of the road network on the Amritsar bypass has several strategic locations left unguarded. It was also ‘discovered’ that all Punjab Police check-points (nakas) remain deserted with no security personnel around.
Strategic locations remain unguarded
With the focus of the Amritsar Police on patrolling within the city and to guard vital installations, some of the important check-posts on the Verka Attari road remain unguarded, a clear sign that the police is still to learn lessons from past experiences. Vacant check-posts are a sign of sheer laxity even as Amritsar remains vulnerable to Pathankot-style attacks from the neighbouring country.
On Monday, HT also spotted deserted check-posts attached to the Gurdaspur-Pathankot highway and on the road that leads to the Wagah border.
This road, also an entry point to the city, also leads to various villages. The strategic army cantonment area is here, yet there is no security on the stretch.
This area also has the Fatehgarh Churian crossing where traffic lights remain out of order for the major part of the day. Yet, cops are nowhere to be seen. This is also a major security lacuna.
If at all a cop in on duty at this crossing, their tendency to manage traffic from a corner - instead of from the middle of the road - is puzzling to say the least.
On moving further down the road, one is again witness to important police posts like the Mahal Chowki - again adjoining vacant check-posts.
Indo - Pakistan bus route also unguarded
The Verka-Attari stretch is on the route of the Indo-Pak Delhi-Lahore bus service that passes by four times a week and in fact requires even more vigil. One would have expected the police to have upped security at this stretch at least until January 26.
The HT team also observed that the entry points to the city were making do without a check-post. Amritsar is thus, highly vulnerable to a security breach and needs a dramatic and visible increase in security to inspire any confidence.
‘Check-points are manned in shifts’
When contacted, Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Aulakh said, “After the Pathakot terror attack, there has not been a single day that we haven’t been alert. The Amritsar Police is on its toes and checking is done at all nakas. We are getting intelligence inputs everyday and are planning accordingly. We would no stone unturned to secure Amritsar. It is just that the nakas are planned in manner that they can be shifted easily. Practically, it is not possible to provide heavy security on all check points at the same time. These are manned in shifts. I will, however, make sure that vital check points never remain vacant. We have been given extra security force (two companies).”