Many questions about operations

Pathankot attack: Once battle began, the command changed thrice

Many questions about operations

From missing hours to the command failure, questions were raised on the success of the Pathankot operation, more than 24 hours after terrorists were gunned down inside the air station.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the consequences of the terror attack with his Cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, there are several gaps that need to be closed for an accurate reconstruction of the chain of events leading to the terror attack and proper analysis of the strike back by security agencies.

The presence of terrorists on the Indian soil was established around 12.30 am on January 1 when they made the first phone call to Pakistan.

The attack on the base came almost 26 hours later, raising questions on where did the terrorists hide for an entire day carrying almost 40 kg of bullets along with several kg of RDX, guns and grenades.

Also it is anybody’s guess on what steps the Punjab Police took after its top officials were informed by the abducted SP Salwinder Singh about the terrorists. The SP himself is under investigation by the National Investigation Agency.

How the terrorists managed to enter the highly guarded air base and why they were not stopped on the roads are two key questions.

“The Army can’t do the civil duty. It can’t stop people on the road,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated at Pathankot on Tuesday, giving an indirect hint to what the Punjab Police should have done after receiving the alerts several hours in advance.

Once the operations began, the command changed thrice within a short time – from an Army brigadier to a Major General in the National Security Guards and then to a Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force.  Also the director general of the NSG and a deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force landed in Pathankot, adding to the command confusion.

With questions on the command confusion and why the Army was given a secondary role being discussed in the capital, the military has come out on record denying absence of synergy. Parrikar, however, stated at Pathankot that he advised the Army and NSG to carry out for training exercises together.

“A well coordinated effort by all security agencies including the Army, NSG, local police and IAF succeeded in neutralising the terrorists,” says a statement from the IAF on Wednesday. “There was excellent synergy among agencies in this operation,” said Lt Gen K J Singh, Western Army Commander. Many retired military officers, however, felt otherwise.
 
Suspicion over Punjab SP’s abduction claims
There is an air of suspicion in the testimony of Superintendent of Police (SP) Sulwinder Singh that he was abducted by terrorists and later freed before the Pathankot terror attack, DHNS reports from Chandigarh. As a result, the National Investigation Agency(NIA) is still unsure if he is a crucial witness in the terror strike in Pathankot, a whistle-blower or even a possible suspect. The NIA has been questioning him for long hours. He was taken around on Wednesday by a team of NIA to reconstruct the crime scene. For now, the NIA is finding inconsistencies in the version of the SP, who is also facing a sexual harassment complaint by some of his juniors. 

The abduction episode leaves many questions unanswered.­

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