Sending a strong message across the border that the security agencies in Punjab had the expertise and ability to neutralise any terrorist group just as it had done in Dinanagar recently, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced a series of measures to strengthen the security set-up in areas bordering Pakistan.
The first step would involve the raising of another SWAT (Special Weapons Anti Terrorist) team that would remain stationed in border areas to deal with any exigency. This will be in addition to the existing SWAT squad that played a major role in neutralising the three Pakistani terrorists in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur district last month.
The deputy CM announced that a sum of Rs 50 crore had been allocated to the Special Security Group (SSG) which would be meant for VVIP security. However, if the need arose, the SSG would be involved in anti-terrorist operations, he added.
"These special anti-terrorist teams will be imparted training by some of the best security agencies of the world," he said during his day's tour of the border areas of Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts on Wednesday.
The overall presence of Punjab Police in the border areas would be increased, he announced.
Promotions for cops
Badal, along with director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini, first visited Dinanagar, where he met the Punjab Police personnel who had taken part in the July 27 action against the three terrorists. He also visited the police station.
Moved by the bravery displayed by the force that he commands in his capacity as home minister, Sukhbir took no time in announcing promotions for all the cops of Dinanagar police station who had taken part in the anti-terrorist operation and also announced that the Home Guard jawans who took part in the action would be inducted into Punjab Police.
In an informal chat with the media, he said that besides meeting external threat, the government had initiated a number of steps to improve the overall security environment in the state. An important step in this direction would be the launching of the Rapid Rural Response Force next month. This force would respond to any call emanating from any village within 10 minutes as was the case in cities. Around 220 vehicles had been ordered for this force, he added.
In his address to the cops of Dinanagar police station, the deputy chief minister said, "You did not care for your personal safety and went after the terrorists with whatever was at your command. I feel proud that I am the home minister of a state and a force which is individually capable of taking any terrorist activity head on."
Assuring the police personnel that they would be honoured for the exemplary courage shown by them, he said it was not an easy task to pin down and then neutralise such highly trained terrorists who were on a 'fiyadeen' mission.
He also congratulated the DGP for leading from the front in the anti-terrorist operation. He also praised the fast response of Punjab Police in dealing with the situation and also interacted with some of the police jawans.
Security measures on border
Later, the deputy CM, along with the DGP, visited the Khalra Border Outpost (BOP) and interacted with the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and also with the farmers of the area who have their land between the barbed wire fence and the zero line. BSF DIG (Amritsar sector) MF Farooqui was present at the BOP to brief the deputy CM of the security measures along the border.
During his interaction with the BSF, Sukhbir appreciated the task they were performing along the border. He suggested that CCTV cameras and sensors should be installed adjoining the barbed fencing to guard against smuggling and terrorist activity.
He met farmers who were working in their fields. Later, addressing a public gathering, he assured the people that the state was equipped to take any Pakistan-sponsored terror activity head on.
"I am here to assure you that the Punjab government is committed to maintaining peace on the border. Any attempt to destabilise this hard-won peace will not be tolerated," he added.
He also announced that the police presence in the border areas would be increased.