Security agencies swung into action around the Indian Air Force base and the Mamoon cantonment area in Pathankot on Tuesday afternoon after an intelligence input about possible a terror attack was received by the local police.
With the input coming in the afternoon, heavy deployment was done around the airbase — which was attacked by terrorists in January last year — by the army’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, paramilitary troops and the police. The IAF also conducted aerial surveillance through a helicopter that continuously hovered over key defence establishments.
The urgency shown by the security forces left residents in panic. Shopkeepers near the base were asked to down shutters. The media that thronged the area in large numbers, however, was left guessing as no officer was ready to speak.
Later, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nilambari Vijay Jagdalay told HT over phone that there was an alert by the Intelligence Bureau about a “suspected act of some anti-national group on the airbase”. Asked if an alert was sounded for the Mamoon cantonment too, she said the army was active on its after the alert.
A joint search operation of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh Police, the army and air force was launched too, the SSP told new agency PTI. She said the search operation is part of precautionary measures and more than 500 personnel are engaged in it. The operation was being carried out in villages and other areas located near the airbase.
Such alerts and sightings of suspected terrorists have put the security agencies on their toes several times since the January 2016 attack, in which a civilian and seven security personnel were killed. Dinanagar in Gurdaspur was targeted on July 27 in 2015, when three heavily-armed terrorists wearing army fatigues had stormed a police station, killing seven persons, including a superintendent of police, before they were gunned down during a day-long operation.
(WITH PTI INPUTS)