Jeweller abducted with Punjab SP got wind of terror designs

Jeweller abducted with Punjab SP got wind of terror designs

The security establishment got the first hint about terrorists’ plans to target Pathankot Air Force base when a jeweller, who was abducted along with a Punjab Police officer, informed investigators about a phone call made by terrorists to their handlers in Pakistan.

Rajesh Verma was abducted along with Superintendent of Police (SP) Salwinder Singh and his cook on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1. While Singh and his cook were released, Verma was taken hostage by the terrorists. He overheard the terrorists talking to their handlers over phone, probably snatched from the SP, about why they were getting delayed to enter their target airbase.

Verma was dumped with his throat slit, and was later found by police. During questioning, he informed police about the telephone call. Sources said that Verma’s statement also gave them an indication that there was more than one group of terrorists. Verma told the police that the terrorists were asked why there were not able to enter the airbase when two
others have already entered it. The terrorists told their handlers that they were on their way but could not reach the base as there were several police pickets on the way.

Sources said this showed that the two terrorists had already entered the base on January 1, much before the alert was sounded about a possible strike at the Air Force facility. They also did not rule out the possibility that the four terrorists, who were involved in the abduction of the SP and others, had also entered the airbase before the issuance of the alert.

The security agencies got wind of a possible attack only on January 1 afternoon. By then, they were certain that the target was the airbase.

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