Infiltration bids, terror strikes in Punjab share stark similarities

Infiltration bids, terror strikes in Punjab share stark similarities

Both cross-border infiltration bids and terror attacks that Punjab faced in the last five months—the first one in border town Dinanagar and now in Pathankot— have stark similarities and  modus operandi.

Both attacks were fidayeen in nature. The route that was taken to enter Punjab was again from the Bamiyal sector on the Indo-Pak border in Punjab.

In both terror strikes, militants have attempted to target defence installations and police outfits. The attempt was to look beyond the mass casualties and send a message that would hit the morale of the forces. In both attacks, the militants wanted to engage with security forces for a longer duration. The militants used Army fatigues to camouflage their identity until the attack. Carjacking was a common strategy in both strikes. The timing of the strikes too have been in the wee hours, in pitch darkness, to infuse an element of surprise.  
The 540-odd km of international border in Punjab is fenced with barbed wires and floodlights. But these attacks expose the vulnerability of the border zone. There are porous areas, like rivers and rivulets, that present an opportunity for militants to cross over to Punjab. The fencing work was complete two decades ago, and barring these two strikes, Punjab has not witnessed any major incident of cross-border terrorism since then.

Experts say the attempt is to clearly destabilise Punjab, a state that agonisingly lived through the ugly decade of Sikh militancy in the dark 80s. While it is still early to indicate any connect between these strikes and misdirected attempts to revive militancy in Punjab, security agencies have hinted at the possibility of some radical pro-Khalistani supporters regrouping.

 The arrest of about two dozen Sikh militants in the last four years punctuates the seriousness of an impending crisis. A local connection in these two terror strikes is hard to rule out.

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