Punjab cops reduced to bystanders as Army takes on Pathankot attackers

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 05, 2016 01:56 IST
Punjab Police officers conduct a search operation at Manwal village in Pathankot during anti-terrorist operations on Monday.

Ever since Pakistani terrorists struck at the Pathankot airbase before dawn on Saturday, the Punjab Police top brass have been kept at an arm’s length by the army. Even as the anti-terror operation that is still not over and is taking place in Punjab’s territory, the state police have literally no clue about what is happening inside the battle zone.

The role of the state police has been restricted to ‘traffic management’, while the police top brass known for proven anti-terror exercise have been kept at bay. While additional director general of police (ADGP, law and order) HS Dhillon has been camping in Pathankot since January 1, director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora reached the hot spot on January 2 soon after the terror strikes began. Both cops are well known for their rich experience in anti-terror operations when the border state was in the grip of militancy. However, the role of DGP Arora and ADGP Dhillon in the ongoing operation has been reduced to that of a bystander.

This despite the fact that the first and the concrete input of ultras’ having sneaked inside Pathankot came from the state police after the vehicle of a superintendent of police (SP) was waylaid on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 by the four terrorists wearing army fatigues. It was the Punjab Police that raised the alarm, prompting other security agencies to react and act fast.

Key state police officers sheepishly admit that they have been reduced to a “doormat” and know “nothing” about what is happening inside the airbase.

“We are clueless about the ongoing operation. The security agencies executing this operation have not involved the Punjab Police in planning etc.,” a senior police functionary admitted. The well-equipped state intelligence wing, which has busted a range of terrorist modules even abroad and are now being headed by DGP Anil Kumar Sharma, who has spent more than a decade in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) —the premier spy agency of India is groping in the dark.

Dinanagar op: State police did it alone

The response to the Pathankot terror strike has brought under spotlight the July 27, 2015, Dinanagar attack and the swift action of the Punjab Police in neutralising hardcore terrorists. Parallels are being drawn between the counter-offensive of the state police in the Dinanagar police station siege and the Pathankot action, where the cream of the Indian defence forces is taking on the terrorists since the morning of January 2.

When the three heavily armed ‘jihadi’ Pakistani terrorists had stormed the police station at dawn on July 27, they were neutralised much before dusk in the counter-offensive exclusively launched by the Punjab Police. Not letting the army take on the ultras holed up inside the police station had come under criticism.

But the police’s stand was that state cops were “capable of killing jihadis”. Also, questions were raised that it took police 12 hours to kill terrorists. But the Pathankot operation is not yet over even after almost three days.

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