By Jai Kumar Verma*
After lapse of about eight years of peace the sinister Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)-backed terrorists’ barged into Dinanagar Police Station in Gurdaspur district, on the morning of July 27. The heavily armed terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) wearing army uniform and equipped with automatic weapons and grenades killed seven persons, including a Superintendent of Police.
The LeT terrorists were carrying US-manufactured night vision devices, which the US army supplied to Afghanistan. ISI procured these devices from Afghanistan and supplied them to the suicide squad.
The valiant commandos of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) made efforts to capture at least one terrorist alive. However, the terrorists who were equipped with sophisticated weapons and large quantity of ammunition could not be captured alive and were killed after the gun battle of about 11 hours.
SWAT, which was commissioned about four years back in Punjab Police, has been trained by the Israeli anti-terrorist force. SWAT commandos in their first operation killed all three LeT terrorists without suffering any loss of life. Nonetheless the photographs clearly indicate that these daring commandos, although equipped with latest weapons, were not wearing any bullet proof or protective dress.
The ISI selected Gurdaspur as it is near the Pakistani border and the terrorists infiltrated through the ravines of river Ravi. The malevolent ISI sent these terrorists alongwith drug smugglers and experienced guides who have full idea of the topography and clandestine routes in the area.
The terrorists who wanted to inflict maximum causalities planted five bombs at a major railway track but the bombs were defused well in time.
Pakistan intelligence agency which is not getting desired success in Jammu and Kashmir wanted to demonstrate that the Khalistan movement is not dead, and Khalistani terrorists are active and carrying out the terrorist acts. Any separatist movement, including Khalistani or Kashmiri, strengthens the Pakistani propaganda that minorities are ill treated in India. Secondly, opening of a second front would divide the strength of the security forces.
The analysts also say that due to the Amarnath pilgrimage the security was very tight in J&K, hence the ISI selected Gurdaspur. It was also timed before the hanging of Yaqub Memon.
Some analysts quote a few minor incidents to prove that Khalistan movement is again gaining momentum. They mention that voices are being raised in Punjab in support of Janrail Singh Bhindranwale who was an ardent supporter of Khalistan. Demonstrations were also held in favour of Balwant Singh Rajoana, an assassin of Beant Singh, former chief minister of Punjab. One or two incidents of hoisting of Khalistani flags and shouting of pro-Khalistani slogans were also reported in the province.
The possibility, that these inconsequential episodes were carried out by agents of sleeper cells of ISI, which is bent upon creating law and order problems in Punjab, cannot be ruled out. The intelligence sources mention that terrorist infrastructure, including sleeper cells of ISI, is present at many places in India and they use them when required.
ISI with the help of Khalistani leaders settled abroad including Canada, USA and UK, make efforts to revive the Khalistan movement. However, there is very remote chance of success because inhabitants of Punjab know the futility of Khalistan movement.
The modus operandi of the attackers of Dinanagar Police Station is akin to the tactics of ISI trained suicide terrorists of LeT.
The ISI infiltrated the suicide squad with full preparation and they were carrying no evidence that they were Pakistanis. However, their GPS sets revealed that these LeT men started their operation from Shakargarh, Pakistan.
Pakistani army, which enjoys several perks including hefty pay packets, will never allow cordial relations with India as it survives on the assumed threat from India. It is the reason that whenever some negotiations happen between the leaders of India and Pakistan the incidents of sporadic cross- border firing increases and the ISI manages some terrorist incidents in India.
The attack on Dinanagar Police Station carried out, after the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa and issuance of a joint statement, reaffirms that the Pakistani Army is averse to the idea of friendly relations with India.
The information given by Indian Intelligence organizations about the terror attacks was a general warning which lacked the date, time and place of the assault.
Although the fearless SWAT commandoes have conducted a successful operation, the security agencies must consider the weaknesses of the security apparatus. Why did intelligence ogranisations fail to provide pinpointed and actionable intelligence? Why did the total operation take 11 hours to kill three terrorists? Why did SWAT commandoes go for the operation without wearing full defensive kit, including bulletproof jackets?
India should not expect any assistance from the Pakistani government in curbing terrorism, as according to analysts the Pakistani government is a terrorist government and no one punishes himself.
Pakistan which survives on anti-India rhetoric will not stop sending terrorists to India, hence Indian policy makers must formulate a fool-proof national security policy which would emanate from the beat constable, and include the Director General of Police, multifarious intelligence ogranisations, Ministry of External Affairs, all the security agencies and top of it the political leadership, including the opposition.
India should adopt multi-pronged strategy. On the one hand, India must continue negotiations with Pakistani authorities; highlight the terrorist activities of Pakistan through diplomatic channels in the world; and improve the security system, including intelligence network.
India must strengthen its forces at the border. Sealing of the border is a very difficult and tedious job; although fencing of the border has curbed the menace of infiltration to a great extent, there are several gaps from where the infiltration can be done. ISI is using these gaps for sending the terrorists through trained guides.
If Pakistan does not understand the language of peace there is no harm in giving them a stern warning that India has the capability of instigating various nationalities in Pakistan who are agitating against Punjabi domination. India being a peaceful nation will not interfere in the internal matters of any country, but Pakistan should also avoid sending terrorists in India. Political leaders and bureaucrats should also avoid issuing empty threats. Instead they should retaliate with foolproof planning, determination and caution if the situation does not improve.
*Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst. He can be contacted at [email protected]