New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday asserted that defence installations in the country were completely secured and the government was spending more on the security apparatus in comparison to previous regimes.
“Defence installations are completely secured and since December 2014, not a single attack has taken place on defence installations in Jammu and Kashmir,” Parrikar said, replying to a discussion on the country’s security after an attack at the Pathankot air base.
“In 2014, 104 terrorists were neutralised, while we lost 31 security personnel. Earlier, the ratio used to be 1:1, while now it has shifted towards security forces 3:1. In 2015, it was 97 and 33,” he said, adding that the government has “set up a committee for security audit”.
“The defence forces have taken necessary steps to ensure that there is no breach in security establishment,” Parrikar added.
“We have spent all the defence budget, and a part of that I have used a lot of money lying with the US government under foreign military sales. We have an agreement with them now, by which for the next two years, we won’t send them dollars for procurement of foreign military weapons,” Parrikar said in response to an interjection from the opposition regarding the government’s expenditure to keep the nation secured.
The defence minister said the government moved special security forces from the adjoining cantonments to Pathankot at the time of the incident.
“It is wrong that we did not move security forces. At 8 p.m. on the same night, 1 para came to Pathankot from Sambha, another group was moved to Gurdaspur from Nahan at 12.30 in the night. So special security forces were moved,” he said replying to the discussion.
Parrikar also took potshots at the opposition accusing them of sacrificing the country’s military intelligence to gain political points.
“The intelligence build up cannot be done overnight. Intelligence which was developed over deep assets fell to the political policies and political scoring points. Military intelligence has been sacrificed to alter political goals. Once you do this, rebuilding intelligence takes time,” he said, referring to the opposition benches.
“We came to know about suspected terrorist presence at 5.55 in the morning of January 1. Brig R.R. Singh, station commander of Tibrig Cantonment, Gurdaspur was informed that four suspects in army fatigue have hijacked a jeep and may be heading towards Pathankot,” Parrikar told the house while disclosing specific information about the incident.
“So civil police was contacted for ensuring that patrolling for the area outside the base is carried out. At 6.15 a.m., Pathankot SSP also gave the same information that military had received earlier.
“At 3.11 p.m., there was a specific info that terrorists were inside military installation. There are three more army installation within 4-5 km of the area. At 4.35 p.m., helicopters were also launched in the search operation,” he added.
The defence minister noted that the operation was completed in 43 hours contrary to the notion in media that it lasted for 3-4 days.
“Our forces had surrounded them concentrating the terrorists in a 200 by 200 metres pit from where they could not come out and the operation took only 43 hours to complete,” Parrikar said.
“My instructions to the army chief were, there is no pressure of time but there should be no fatality. If we would trap them they would have no where to run. Hence the operation didn’t take so long. The instructions were general in nature that we don’t lose more men as we had already lost 6 men the previous day,” he added.
The minister said such attacks like that on the Pathankot air base “should be treated as more of a mini war conducted by our adversaries because they are weak”.
He also assured the house that the gaps in the security establishment have already been filled.