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Did the Pathankot operation take too long?
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Ashutosh Bhatia | Date:07 Jan , 2016 2 Comments
Ashutosh Bhatia
Defence Correspondent, Sahara Samay

The Union Minister for Defence Manohar Parrikar addressing a press conference, at Pathankot airbase, Punjab on January 05, 2016. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and the Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh are also seen.

The operation in Pathankot against suspected JeM terrorists is complete and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has begun its probe into the cross-border conspiracy of the dastardly attack. The leading investigation agency has to untangle the terror plot and answer several unanswered questions. The NIA Director General Sharad Kumar has already termed the investigation ‘challenging’.

Firstly, how the terrorists, armed with AK-47s, under barrel grenade launchers (to fire mortars) knives and 40 to 50 kilograms of bullets and four dozen magazines, hoodwinked the BSF and the thermal cameras at the border to infiltrate into the Indian territory?

Secondly, how did they manage to enter the highly secured IAF Station particularly when the security was significantly enhanced following multiple advance intelligence information and alerts that the terrorists would target military installations?

Thirdly, there are inputs to suggest that the terrorists had local helpers in nearby Gujjar dominated villages, who they are.

Fourthly, did the terrorists had a mole inside the air base who helped them prepare for the attack?

Fifthly, whether Leading Air Craftsman Ranjith KK, befriended by ISI spy girl Damini McNaught on Facebook, played a role by passing on sensitive information about the Station.

Amidst all the cacophony questions have also been raised on country’s security forces. So many people are asking as to why the security forces took so long to eliminate the terrorists in Pathankot. The casualty figure of Indian armed forces (7) too looked bigger than that of the terrorists. 

The fault-finders are busy slamming the security set up by saying it was his inept supervision which turned the short counter terrorism operation into a fiasco. While it would be correct to say that despite one day advance intelligence we couldn’t prevent the terrorists from entering the forward base, but the initial lapse was well rectified later. 

The security forces have successfully achieved the objective of protecting high value IAF assets like the MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft, MI-25 & MI-35 attack helicopters and civilian lives inside the Station.

The political leadership too has expressed satisfaction that the damage to air force assets was fully avoided. As Arun Jaitley, who attended the high level meeting at PM’s residence puts it, “Our security forces were completely successful in averting damage to the strategic assets in the base.”

If the forces had not acted swiftly, the terrorists would have penetrated deeper into the technical area and gone ahead with their likely objective to detonate the ammunition dump, damage the high value assets and massacre civilian population inside.

Unfortunately, the four DSC (Defence Security Corps) men were totally unarmed in the kitchenette when the terrorists confronted them. Even then DSC Havildar Jagdish Singh bravely pounced on one terrorist, overpowered him quickly, snatched his rifle and neutralized him instantly. However, he sustained gunshots by other terrorists.

The Garuds (IAF Commandos) too did well to timely secure air assets from the terrorists. IAF Commando Gurusewak Singh’s valorous effort will long be remembered as played a crucial role in preventing the terrorists from going to the technical area.

With the NIA questioning SP Salwinder Singh, his friend Rajesh Verma and the cook and saying that the statements given by him are repeatedly being verified owing to some “contradictions”, the larger plot leading to the attack is yet to come to the fore.

Defence Minister Manohar Parikar’s statement is worth mention here- “I can see some gaps but I don’t think there is a compromise on security. The army cannot perform civil duties to set up check posts on the passages.”

Once the terrorists were encircled by security forces, the situation was under control to a large extent. After the accidental death of Lt Col Niranjan Kumar, security forces were issued instructions to meticulously handle the situation, ensure minimum loss of lives and collateral damage.

The 32 year old officer from the NSG’s bomb detection squad was martyred while defusing an explosive from a terrorist’s body. The forces also wanted to capture at least one of the 5th and 6th terrorists alive for crucial leads into the terror plot- one of the reasons the operation was carried out slowly. Reliable sources have informed that a group of commandos also tried to establish contact with one terrorist but he hurled grenade at them.

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2 thoughts on “Did the Pathankot operation take too long?

  1. Operations of these kinds can take upto 3 to 7 days. the duration depends on the training of the terrorists, ammunition and food , terrain and reaction of SF. In this attack unfortunately Mr Doval thought that the NSG,PP and the IB would be enough to counter them. Sadly, he hasn’t operated in a terrorist infested area or conducted too many ops. This is no movie Mr Doval. Live bullets and explosions. Have you been in one??? Never.
    These are fluid,deliberate and very tiring ops. It takes years of ground experience and training to successfully conduct them. Had these ops been handled by the local army commander it would have been better conducted. The army does it all the time. Politicians and babus need to learn this.

    • India has been going through terrorist attacks since so long, 26/11, was total chaos, despite increasing NSG bases, nothing much has been done since then. From local police to BSF, and commanding officer of whole operation and putting NSG on main task, there were so many loopholes.

      Why can’t we achieve inter forces coordination. The bad shape of dsc, and no proper function of police and tactical readyness. I beleive many higher officers are inapt to command troops. Failure of BSF, police response, ,, putting NSG INSTEAD of GARUD for main task. Poorly équiped and badly shaped DSC. and confusion of one central command for all inter forces. Made this worst example of su h kind of opertaions.

      I could see armed personal didn’t even know how to put protective gear correctly. Lack of communication in between squads and teams.

      India need to work hard on so many areas .

      Get rid of colonial culture of men and officer relationship. Officer don’t own men but work a team. If you know what i mean.

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