Post attack on RSS leader, PMO kept Punjab top brass on its toes

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Pawan Sharma
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2016 11:24 IST
Director general of police Suresh Arora at Hero DMC Heart institute in Ludhiana on Monday. (JS Grewal/HT Photo)

The peace-vitiating bid to kill Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd), the key person of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Punjab, also set the alarms bells ringing in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Top functionaries in the PMO kept the Punjab governments’ civil and police authorities on their toes all-through the Saturday night. After reports began pouring in that two unidentified bike-borne assailants in Jalandhar had pumped in bullets into the abdomen of Gajneja, the PMO monitored the developments on an hourly basis, according to high-ranking police sources.

Gagneja was shot thrice in the abdomen near the busy Jyoti Chowk in Jalandhar a little after 8 pm on Saturday. He was shifted to Hero DMC Heart Institute in a critical condition on Sunday.

Senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader, Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd) being shifted to Hero DMC Heart Institute, Ludhiana from a private hospital in Jalandhar on Sunday. (HT File Photo)

Sources say the Union government has also drawn up a plan to shift the ex-army officer to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) or the Army Referral Hospital in Delhi.

“The PMO was in touch with Punjab officers till 3am on Sunday. Brig Gagneja is the backbone of the RSS in Punjab. The PMO was trying to collect early leads such as why Gagneja was attacked and who could be behind this murderous attack,” a Punjab-based RSS leader told Hindustan Times.

Also read | Jagdish Gagneja: A low-profile, yet powerful RSS leader in Punjab


After the initial shock of this yet another targeted shootout started sinking in, the state government alerted deputy commissioners (DCs) and senior superintendents of police (SSPs) across the state to take precautionary steps. The DCs were asked to review security arrangements with the district police chiefs.

But the panic in Punjab Police was such that director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora requested the state government to immediately seek 15 companies (about 1,500 men) of the paramilitary forces from the Centre.

DGP Suresh Arora with police officials at the crime spot in Jalandhar on Sunday. (HT File Photo)

“By 11pm on Saturday, all the DCs received a message from the government in Chandigarh that on the request of the DGP, the government has requested the Centre to give the border state 15 additional companies of the CRPF. After this, 10 companies of the paramilitary forces were deployed on Sunday on the basis of feedback by DCs and the SSPs,” said an IAS officer posted in the field.

The decision to deploy paramilitary forces as a precautionary measure indicates the “self-confidence” of Punjab Police and its “preparedness” to handle tough law and order situations in the wake of two back-to-back terror strikes — July 27, 2015, Dinanagar and the January 2 Pathankot air base attacks — and recent spate of targeted killings.

Read: Badal points to Pakistan, Sukhbir says will nab culprits soon

Sources say two companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed in Jalandhar on Sunday, while a RAF company each was sent to Ludhiana and Amritsar. Six BSF companies were deployed in other sensitive parts.


Police have gathered a clue that in the shootout, a 9mm weapon was used. The assailants had used a similar weapon in a shootout at a RSS “shakha” in Ludhiana in January. Also, the assailants used .32-bore bullets while attacking Gagneja who sustained multiple gunshot injuries in the intestine.

A CCTV grab of the attackers released by the police in Jakandhar on Monday. (HT File Photo)

Police are banking on the CCTV footage in which two bike-borne suspects are seen covering their head with a “patka” and faces with a white cloth. The assailants, police sources say, were trailing the RSS leader after he left home.

Read: Eyewitness describes shooting, seeks security

Now, the Jalandhar incident CCTV footage frame is being matched with the CCTV footages of Ludhiana and Khanna shootout cases in which RSS and Shiv Sena activists were targeted. “We are exploring if same assailants were involved in Jalandhar and Ludhiana cases,” a police officer said.

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