Following Gurdaspur, more terrorist attacks feared
The Gurdaspur attack seems similar to a number of attacks that have taken place in Jammu recently, with the same pattern as this one. It remains unclear how many militants may have crossed over from the international border. The next 24 hours are vital, because another attack may come within this time. All military schools have been closed for today, and security installations alerted.
Intelligence was received on July 24 which suggested that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, led by their commander Maqbool Khan, would try to infiltrate India to carry out attacks around 15 August or before. The Pakistani Rangers and the ISI are supposedly helping them. The forewarned attack came on Monday morning - 27 July, after which Delhi and UP were put on red alert.
The attack took place in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur district, just 20 km from the Pakistan border, part of which is porous. The terrorist attack was certainly not a Khalistan operation. It is suspected that the terrorists, clothed in combat fatigues, were part of Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Security was stepped up along the border by 12 pm on Monday, with enhanced vigil.
Formed in the 1990s, Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the Kashmir-focused terrorist outfits. Known as the Army of the Righteous, LET has carried out several attacks in J&K and India itself since 1993. LET was suspected to be behind the 2008 Mumbai attack as well.
The terrorists seemingly first placed 5 pressure bombs on railway tracks over a bridge in Talwandi, 2 km from Dinanagar. These bombs were discovered around 5.50 am on Monday morning. Intended to blow up a passenger train, they were seen by a railway patrol van, which called for the bomb disposal squad. The bombs were successfully defused and a major tragedy averted.
The militants attacked a roadside eatery, killing a kulchawallah and firing at a Punjab roadways bus.. They then stole a Maruti 800 and headed towards the police station, attacking a community health centre adjacent to the police station. They forced their way into the police station and started firing indiscriminately. They also targeted the residential building of the Punjab Home Guards, hurling grenades.
The militants engaged in a gunbattle from inside the police station with the security forces outside. The Punjab police was reinforced by the army, NSG and Punjab SWAT teams, Quick Response Team and the Punjab Special Security Group. The encounter-lasting a full 12 hours-finally ended with the death of the militants. 7 others were also killed in the attack, including SP Baljit Singh.
The question of national security was raised in the Lok Sabha during zero hour, since it was felt that it should be discussed. They were informed that the Home Minister, would make a statement after the encounter, taking the house into confidence. However, the house erupted into argument after Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the Government was shirking its responsibilities regarding national security.
After the Gurdaspur attack on Monday morning, a red alert was issued to invigorate the security in Punjab. Security personnel along with sniffer dogs have been deployed to bus stands, railway stations and crowded markets. Check points have been established for intensified checking of vehicles. A large number of reserved forces from Punjab Armed Police (PAP) have been deported to Gurdaspur.