Amritsar grenade blast: Attack happened during high alert in Punjab, 2km from high-security airport
The Sunday grenade attack on a religious congregation in Amritsar has caught the Punjab Police napping and exposed glaring chinks in the state intelligence. The attack took place at a time when Punjab was a high alert following a specific input on a bunch of Jaish-e-Mohammand terrorists having sneaked into its territory.
DGP Intelligence Dinkar Gupta had on Wednesday directed district police chiefs to increase vigil, set up special nakas and strengthen second line of defence in border areas. Yet the attackers managed to get into the prayer hall of Niranakris in Adliwal village with hand grenades and pistols and easily escaped from the area that is situated just 2 km away from the high-security Guru Ramdass International Airport at Rajasansi.
“We had no information about a religious function being organised in the area. Also, there was no intel input on possibility of attack on such congregations,” said Amritsar senior superintendent of police (rural) Parampal Singh. “We were conducting regular checks,” he added.
Congress MLA Dr Raj Kumar Verka, however, said it was an “intelligence failure.” “This is a big failure as state was already on high alert. We must learn from this,” he said after visiting the spot.
Watch: Amritsar blast could be a terror attack, says Punjab DGP
Government on the backfoot
The second grenade attack in Punjab in two months has put the Captain Amarinder Singh-led government on the backfoot. On September 14, four low-intensity grenades were hurled at Maqsudan police station in Jalandhar in which two cops, including an SHO, were injured.
Later, Punjab Police said the blast was the handiwork of Kashmir- based terror outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) and two Valley youths studying in a local engineering college were also arrested.
The opposition, which has accused the Captain government of hobnobbing with radical elements on various Sikh issues, is likely to corner the ruling party over the Amritsar attack.
BJP national secretary RP Singh was quick to attack the Punjab government after the attack. “Ministers’ friendship Khalistanis will cost Punjab dear,” he tweeted. He was making an apparent reference to rural development minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa’s alleged closeness to supporters of US-based pro-Khalisatan Sikhs advocacy group, Sikhs for Justice.
A senior Punjab Police functionary said the Nirankari mission attack could be a well-planned strategy to create tension between Sikhs and members of the sect. “We are exploring all such angles,” he said. Another senior functionary said the police are also not ruling out the angle of “internal rivalry” between the Nirankari sect.