Parliamentary Panel Raps Govt For Terror Attack In Pathankot Airbase

03/05/2016 5:04 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Indian army soldiers take positions on a rooftop of a building outside the Indian airbase in Pathankot, 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, India, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. At least four gunmen entered an Indian air force base near the border with Pakistan on Saturday morning and exchanged fire with security forces, leaving two of them dead, officials said. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

A Parliamentary panel has rapped the government for its failure to prevent the Pathankot terror attack, saying "something is seriously wrong" in the country's counter-terror establishment and the airbase's security was not robust.

In its 197th report, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs also observed that the role of Punjab Police is also very "questionable and suspicious" during the January 2 terror attack.

The panel said it has failed to understand that in spite of terror alert sounded well in advance, how terrorists managed to breach the high-security airbase and subsequently carried out the strike.

The committee said it is constrained to note that despite concrete and credible intelligence inputs received from abducted and released SP of Pathankot and his friend and through interception of communication between terrorists and their handlers by the terrorists disclosing that they were planning an attack on a defence establishment, the security agencies were so ill-prepared to anticipate threats in time and counter them swiftly and decisively.

The committee said it "feels that something is seriously wrong with our counter-terror security establishment."

During its visit to the airbase, the panel found that there was no roads around the perimeter wall of the strategic airbase. There were growth of long shrubs and trees on the premises which have helped terrorists in hiding and making difficult for security forces in flushing out the terrorists.

"The committee during its visit found that airbase's security cover was not robust and it had a poorly guarded perimeter wall," the report said.

The panel said there cannot be two opinion on the fact that Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group was behind this ghastly attack which was established through interception of calls between terrorists and their handlers based in Pakistan, thanks to their use of robbed mobile phones from Pathankot SP and his friend.

Besides, weapons, ammunition and many items found in the possession of killed terrorists are also said to be having 'Made in Pakistan' marking.

"In view of the ease with which the terrorists sneaked into our side from Pakistan, the Committee understands that the attack cannot take place without active support from the security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan as four armed men cannot easily pass through heavy Pakistani defence establishment situated near border area," it said.

Seven security personnel were killed in the terror attack on Pathankot airbase carried out by JeM on January 2.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee said despite the fencing, floodlighting and patrolling by BSF personnel, Pakistani terrorists managed to sneak into India from across the border.

"The Committee understands that in this attack, the role of Punjab Police is also very questionable and suspicious as even after abduction of Punjab Police SP, the Punjab Police took long time in arriving at the conclusion that their abduction was not just a criminal robbery but it was going to be serious national security threat," it noted.

The panel said it failed to understand why the terrorists let the SP and his friend off, which should be thoroughly examined by National Investigation Agency.

"Besides, the Committee is of the view that the role of narco-syndicate active in border areas of Punjab should also be investigated as the terrorists might have taken help of channels or networks used by smugglers to infiltrate the border, shelter and carry out terror attack," it said.

The committee recommended that in view of the serious attacks from across the international border in the area, the government should pay attention to effectively sealing the border through enhanced patrolling, fencing, flood lighting etc.

"The Committee recommends that the Pathankot airbase which is very close to border should be declared high security zone and should be properly secured through round-the-clock patrolling and making it out-of-bounds for general people residing around the airbase," it said.

The panel noted that the submission of the Home Ministry that the NIA is handling the investigation of this case and terrorists belonged to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, led by Maulana Masood Azhar, were found to be behind the attack but the Committee would like to be apprised what made the government of India to seek help of Pakistan into probe of this terror attack and invite a Joint Investigation Team from Pakistan to India.

A Pakistani Joint Investigation Team had visited India last month as part of its investigation into the case.

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