New Delhi: Three civilians and four security personnel, including a superintendent of police, were killed yesterday when three heavily-armed terrorists from Pakistan went on a killing spree, shattering two decades of calm in Punjab and sparking an 11-hour gun battle that left all three attackers dead.
It took 11 hours for Punjab Police commandos to eliminate three terrorists who, in military fatigues, stormed a police station complex in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district, once a hotbed of militancy and adjoining Pakistan, taking security forces by surprise.
The question that comes to our mind that why it took almost an entire day (11 hours) to neutralize three terrorists who stormed into Gurdaspur. It was, basically, because of a deliberate strategy devised by Punjab Police to get hold of at least one of them alive.
“The idea was to wear out the terrorists, so as to capture them. There was a limited amount of ammunition with them, and probably no food stocks. So they would have given up if we had managed to prolong the entire operation," sources were quoted as saying in a report published in Times of India.
This was also the reason the government did not press the Army and other security agencies into the operation with their heavy firepower. The Army or the National Security Guard (NSG) would have gone for the kill, depriving the government of a prized terror catch.
“Efforts were made to catch the terrorists alive so that they could be interrogated later to further links could be established,” Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh told reporters.
The operation was carried out by Punjab Police's barely five-year-old SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team.
The plan was to have another Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist seized in 2008 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, so that elaborate details of Pakistan's involvement in the incident can be established further. Kasab had provided crucial information to the authorities about Pakistan's role in supporting terrorism against India.
Local Army units had arrived at the Dinanagar police station even as the terror attack was unfolding. Even the NSG had arrived at the location.
However, the government stuck to the police's SWAT team to take on the terrorists. Punjab's SWAT is trained by an Israeli security consultancy.
This was the first major terror attack in Punjab after the assassination of then chief minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995 in Chandigarh, joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
Dinanagar is located barely 15 km from the Pakistan border.