MPs’ panel points out security lacunae ahead of Pathankot attack

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New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) Parliament’s standing committee for home ministry has pointed out lacunae and lapses in security at Punjab’s Pathankot airbase and questioned how terrorists from Pakistan could manage to intrude to launch the January 2 attack.

“The security cover at the airbase (of the Indian Air Force) was not robust, its perimeter wall was poorly guarded and the base did not have a road around it for patrolling,” said the panel’s report tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

The committee, which visited the Indian Air Force base after the terror attack, raised questions on how terrorists from Pakistan managed to enter the airbase.

“The committee is unable to understand how, despite a terror alert (having been) sounded well in advance, the terrorists managed to breach the high-security airbase and subsequently attack it,” the panel said.

The report noted that this was despite concrete and credible intelligence inputs received from Superintendent of POlice Salwinder Singh, who was abducted along with his friend Rajesh Verma and cook by the Pakistani terrorists but later released.

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The committee felt there was something “seriously wrong” with India’s counter-terror establishment since Pakistani terrorists managed to sneak into India from across the border despite the fence and floodlights and patrols by the Border Security Force.

“The security agencies of our country were so ill-prepared to anticipate threats in time and counter them swiftly and decisively,” said the report.

It asked the government to pay attention to effective sealing of the border (with Pakistan) through increased patrolling as well as fencing and floodlighting etc.

It said that armed terrorists could not have sneaked into India without the “active support” from Pakistani security and intelligence agencies.

“In view of the ease with which the terrorists sneaked into our side from Pakistan, the committee understands that the attack cannot take place without the active support of security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan as four armed men cannot easily pass through a heavy Pakistani defence establishment situated near the border area,” the panel’s report said.

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The panel also held terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad responsible for the attack at Pathankot.

“There cannot be two opinions on the fact that Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group is behind this ghastly terror attack, which is established through interception of calls between the terrorists and their handlers based in Pakistan, thanks to their use of mobile phones robbed from Pathankot superintendent of police (Salwinder Singh) and his friend.”

The parliamentary committee also raised questions over the role of Punjab Police and the narcotics syndicate operating in the border state.

“The committee understands that in this attack, the role of Punjab Police is also very questionable and suspicious as even after the abduction of the SP (and his friend and cook), the state police took a long time in arriving at the conclusion that their abduction was not just a criminal robbery,” it said.

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The panel asked how the senior police officer was let off, adding that the National Investigation Agency should “thoroughly examine” the matter.

“…the role of the narco syndicate active in the border areas of Punjab should also be investigated as the terrorists might have taken the help of channels or networks used by smugglers to infiltrate the border,” it said.

Seven Indian security personnel were killed in the January 2 attack at the IAF base by terrorists who had crossed over from Pakistan.



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