Pathankot Attack: The Mystery Of The Punjab Police Officer Who Was Abducted, Then Let Off By Militants

05/01/2016 6:21 PM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:40 PM IST
NARINDER NANU via Getty Images
Indian police personnel stand alert near the airforce base in Pathankot on January 5, 2016. Umbrella group of Pakistani proxy jihadist outfits fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the United Jihad Council, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued to the media on January 4, after a weekend of fierce fighting with insurgents left seven soldiers dead. AFP PHOTO/ NARINDER NANU / AFP / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the many issues that have raised eyebrows post the Pathankot attack is the episode involving a Punjab Police SP. Gurdaspur police superintendent Salwinder Singh claims he was abducted by a group of militants who tried storming the Air Force base in the city two days later. The attack sparked a gun-battle when continued for over 48 hours, killing seven Indian security personnel and injuring 22.

Questions have been raised regarding the alleged abduction of Singh. The police officer, who is slated to take over as the assistant commander of the 75th Battalion of the Punjab Armed Police, claims that he was abducted by the terrorists. The militants, who came in army fatigues, had also used Singh's blue beaconed car to reach the airbase.

The Telegraph reports: "Salwinder could not be contacted but police sources said he had been let off because the terrorists did not realise he was a police officer as he was in plainclothes. But it is still not clear why even a civilian would be released by a terrorist squad on its way to attack a high-security installation. The police sources explained the absence of the gunman by saying that Salwinder was returning from a shrine and it was normal practice for state policemen to pay obeisance at places of worship after a transfer or a promotion."

Singh also said that the reason why he was not carrying arms was because he was visiting the shrine.

"The minute I saw them I realised that they were terrorists," Singh told Reuters.

According to a report in NDTV, Singh had gone to a nearby temple to pray along with his cook and a friend.

On their way back, their car was intercepted by a group of 'four-five' armed terrorists. Singh couldn't say for sure how many, firing speculation that there is something missing in his story.

He added that the militants were carrying AK-47s and threatened to shoot them. "If I had a gun, maybe I would have fought against them, become martyred...There were four, five people with arms, how could I have done anything?" he told NDTV. He also described 'how he and two other people in the car with him were pushed down and told that they would be shot if they spoke up'.

They were driven to a densely forested area by the terrorists and then dumped there. Salwinder, after freeing himself, contacted a senior Gurdaspur police officer, who then informed his Pathankot counterpart. Pathankot's RK Bakshi alerted the district, and yet the militants got in.

Singh's complaint was treated as an armed robbery -- showcasing one in a series of lapses on part of the security before the actual attack on 2 January.

It is being reported that Singh has changed his version of the story several times and even then there are some glaring inconsistencies in his account.

According to a report in The Indian Express, mobile phone tower records indicate that the militants made calls from Singh's phone from inside the air base by mid-afternoon on 1 January, some 12 hours before the government said it had detected them through aerial surveillance.

Four days since the attack, an operation is still underway to fully secure the Pathankot air base after the pre-dawn swoop by suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists on 2 January.

Also Read: These Are The Soldiers Who Laid Down Their Lives Fighting Militants In Pathankot

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