Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh and Congress Legislature Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi seem to be pulling in opposite directions as far as the role of Punjab Police is concerned in the terror strike at Pathankot.
While Amarinder gave a clean chit to the police, saying it gave advanced information on the presence of the four Pakistani terrorists and their plan to strike at the airbase, the CLP leader felt there was an intelligence lapse on the part of the police that enabled the terrorists to strike. The CLP leader said deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the home minister, should be held accountable for the lapse.
The two leaders were here on Tuesday to attend the bhog ceremony of Jagat Mitter Soni, father of state Congress vice-president and local MLA OP Soni.
Later, in an informal chat with the media, Amarinder said the police had no role to play in the operation that was launched inside the base to neutralise the attackers.
Army should have been preferred
The Amritsar MP, who himself has served in the army, felt the mopping-up operations after four terrorists were killed, should have been carried out by local army units stationed at Pathankot cantonment. The National Security Guards (NSG) is an elite commando formation and its duty is to neutralise targets, he added.
“The army has experience of mopping-up operations in the Kashmir valley. Even after killing a terrorist, the army jawans take precautionary measures while moving the body. The NSG does not have this experience in mopping-up operations,” he said while pointing out that the life of NSG Lt Col Niranjan Kumar and some of his colleagues could have been saved.
The deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha said his personal view was that the peace dialogue with Pakistan must continue. “These elements will continue to create hurdles, but we must not fall in their trap. If we stop the dialogue, we will only weaken Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” he observed.
Channi holds police responsible
On the other hand, Channi wanted the deputy CM to tell people as to why there was intelligence lapse on the part of Punjab Police. He felt that the police did not take the inputs provided by central intelligence agencies about a possible terror strike in the state seriously.
Talking to the media separately, the CLP leader claimed that senior police officials did not give due importance to the information provided by abducted SP Salwinder Singh.
“This clearly shows two things, one how much the Punjab Police trusts its own officers and, second, if they don’t trust these officers, why are they posted in Gurdaspur, a highly sensitive area?” he added.
Channi demanded that the compensation given to the families of the securitymen killed be raised to at least Rs 20 lakh besides giving a government job to a member of the family.