On 27th of July, 2015, India again witnessed a Mumbai like terrorist attack, wherein 3 Fidayeen terrorists from Pakistan crossed the border through the Thal river in Punjab, entered the Gurdaspur district in Punjab and attacked a police station in Dinanagar area. After crossing the border, they boarded a Punjab Roadways bus for about 30km distance and reached a bus terminal. Early hours of the morning and the fear of being suspected, they began the attack on a roadways bus by firing indiscriminately towards it. Kudos to the bravery of the driver, he ran the bus towards them scaring them away. Knowing the situation was not going as planned, they hijacked a Maruti 800 injuring the occupant and were running away when around Dinanagar, the Punjab Police began its counter-terrorism operation. What began at around 6:30 am in the morning and ended by 6pm evening was an epitome of bravery and courage by the Punjab Police and its SWAT team ending in the killing of all three terrorists. SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics team. Apart from this 5 live bombs were stopped by a railway guard on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway route which did not blow off fortunately after being spotted by a railway guard or else the damage would have been huge. The whole incident led to 7 deaths- 3 civilians, 4 policemen and more than 15 were injured but it could have been more has the response not been swift.
This incident takes us back 7 years to 26 November, 2008 to Mumbai where the deadliest attack yet took place killing 166 and injuring more than 300. Then too, 10 terrorists swamped the city on foot and opened indiscriminate fire on the people. The sad part is…we were not prepared then, we are not prepared now.
The Mumbai attack gave us some startling point to ponder about.
1. Our borders are still porous and one can cross it by sea so easily.
2. The police, yes the state police is unprepared to handle such a situation. In every such circumstance, the police is the one which has to respond first, not the NSG. It can be brought in later. The death of ATS chief Hemant Karkare is a prime example that we do not invest in our police forces.
3. No proper intelligence system at place. The only warnings that were provided were regarding enhancement of security for August 15 preparataions which is a routine affair. It is sufficient to say we had no intelligence info for such an attack.
Come to July, 2015 and you see a repeat of these facts.
The Punjab border is relatively secure as compared to Mumbai with presence of BSF camps all through. Yet the fact that these terrorists swam through the bordering river is a way no one imagined. They possessed arms and ammunition and could have easily attacked the bus they were travelling in but they had bigger plans and knew they could approach a city like Delhi by evening without much ado. Such is the confidence we have instilled in them that our security is a mere eyewash. Come to the attack. Punjab Police used ammunition that was 10-15 years old as compared to AK-47s being used by the terrorists. They had cartridges that could last only a day and for a mere 5 hours had the terrorists been around 10. And we are talking about SWAT team here. They used machine guns and grenades that were 7-8 years old. As you would have seen in the Television coverage, most of the police officials did not wear any bullet-proof jacket or helmets which is very necessary in such an attack. If this is how we treat our soldiers, then God knows what is the situation with the Army. The response by the Centre was slow and largely ineffective when by noon, Punjab police refused any help. Lots to ponder about at a time when we claim we are better prepared now when the actual situation is we are getting worse.
The attacks have not stopped. Pakistan has not ever accepted its hand in any attack but the only issue which remains is the loss of innocent lives. Our soldiers brave these maniacs who leave their homes in the so called fight for Jihad but to leave our soldiers under-prepared, incapacitated and weak to face them without adequate protection and ammunition is never justified. The expenditure on defence equipment has increased and many deals signed although the fruits of those agreements are yet to reach their ultimate targets. The state governments buckling under political pressure and mere populist strategies tend to ignore the most important aspect of maintaining law and order and peace and tranquility in their regions. The National Coordination Centre to be set up by the Home Ministry has been buried under political pressure as the states disagree on its set up for preposterous reasons. This has impacted the flow of intelligence and thus there is no anticipation of any such attacks. The ultimate losers are the people themselves. The population as a whole is the sufferer.
Incidents like this are a slap on our nation. We are ready to pay compensation to the families of the ones who are affected but we do not compensate our forces to prevent that loss of life. The clock is ticking…action is awaited.