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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

From Today's Papers - 05 Jan 2016

Parrikar admits to ‘gaps’ in acting on alert
Body of sixth terrorist found, but combing operation to continue to sanitise air base
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 5
While admitting lapses in following up Intelligence reports suggesting a terror strike on a key Air Force station here, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today refrained from directly blaming Pakistan for the attack that left seven personnel dead and about 20 injured. He declared that all six terrorists were killed inside the base and combing and search operations were on only to detect any unused ammunition.

“I see some gaps in the process, which we would be able to establish only when the investigations are complete, but we did not compromise on the security of the base. The terrorists were contained within a 200-metre radius,” he said in response to a question.

Pointing out that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken up the probe, he added that he would not like to comment on Pakistan’s role as the investigations were underway, though several items that appeared to be made in Pakistan had been recovered.

While refusing to comment on the Border Security Force (BSF), that is responsible for guarding the international border, the Defence Minister said that the NIA has got some initial leads on how the terrorists infiltrated into India.

Parrikar said the combing operations are likely to conclude tomorrow. “It is a very complicated task as every inch of a very vast and difficult area with many blind spots has to be combed to recover any IED or grenade that may have been left behind by the terrorists. The body of a terrorist still has a vest strapped to it, with the possibility of it being booby-trapped,” he said.

The actual encounter began at 3.30 am on January 2 and finished by 7 pm the next day, and what followed was combing and sanitising operations, Parrikar said.

On being asked if two terror attacks within a span of six months in the same sector in Punjab indicated deliberate targeting of the state, he said there could be many responses to this.

The Defence Minister also went around the air base and was shown the site of the encounters with the terrorists, their hiding places and the recovered items as well as several “blinds” or undetonated grenades strewn in the area.
NIA picks up SP for questioning
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 5
Controversial former SP (Headquarters) Salwinder Singh was picked up by the National Investigation Agency sleuths for questioning today evening.

The officer was taken to an undisclosed location in Gurdaspur, where he is being treated as a “witness” and not an “accused”. However, an officer revealed that he may be in trouble if the investigating agency founded something amiss.

Singh, under transfer as Assistant Commandant, 75th Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar, was availing his “joining time” when he claimed that he was kidnapped on the night of December 31 by terrorists.

He had said that he, Gurdaspur-based jeweller Rajesh Verma and his longtime cook Madan Gopal were taken hostage by “four or five Urdu-speaking men”. Twenty-four hours after his suspected abduction, five terrorists entered the Air Force complex in Pathankot and started firing.

Sources said the NIA team politely questioned his security guards as to where the officer was. Once they were shown the way in, they asked him to accompany them. The SP did not resist.
For 4 days, they lived in fear, suspense
3,000 families of Air Force personnel did not venture out of quarters
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 5
For four days they lived in fear and suspense. About 3,000 families of Air Force personnel based at Pathankot and some from foreign countries on a training programme here, remained bottled up in their quarters following the terror strike.

With the IAF restricting access to the airbase and curbing movement as a safety measure, there was little those residing inside the airbase could do, except wait for the operation to end. Only a few personnel were allowed to move out, depending on their nature of duty or because of some exigency.

The terrorists failed in gaining access to the technical area where aircraft are based and were pinned down in the domestic area that houses offices, a school, residences and other administrative facilities.

While the terrorists, according to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, were neutralised within the first 36 hours, residents at the airbase could not move around till the area was sanitised and declared clear of any unexploded ordnance or IEDs. This, of course, affected their daily chores and they were unable to stock up essential house-hold supplies. Some arrangements were made by the local Air Force in this regard, sources said.

But in the rest of the town, life remained normal with people going about their daily business, unruffled.There were no more curious onlookers in the vicinity of the airbase today. At a cluster of houses along the wall adjoining the main entrance of the airbase, several kites were seen flying all throughout the day, with excited children gathering around vendors to buy more. As for the market across the road, it was business as usual.
 Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag Felicitates Vijender Singh
During the meeting, Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag appreciated Vijender Singh for turning professional and congratulated him for three consecutive wins in 2015.
New Delhi: Indian professional boxer Vijender Singh on Tuesday met Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh at his residence here.

During the meeting, the Army chief appreciated Vijender for turning professional and congratulated him for three consecutive wins in 2015. During the hour-long meeting, Gen Dalbir Singh also felicitated Vijender.

"It's an honour for me to meet the Army chief General Dalbir Singh. He is very fond of boxing. He told me that he is following my career from the days I started amateur boxing. I am happy that he is also following my professional bouts," said Vijender.

"He appreciated my decision of turning professional and winning three consecutive bouts. I would like to thank him for the felicitation. It's a big motivation for me, getting honoured by the Chief of Army Staff. He also wished me for my next fight, scheduled to be held in Liverpool, on February 13."

Vijender, who is on a two-week vacation in India, will be flying back to England later this week.
Defence minister, army, air force chiefs to visit Pathankot

Read more at:

New Delhi, Jan 5: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, along with Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha will visit Pathankot in Punjab on Tuesday, Jan 5 in the wake of a terror attack at the air base that has killed seven personnel. The visit comes as combing operations are under way at the air force base where a battle between security forces and terrorists went on for three days.

Read more at:
Terrorists displayed professional Army-like tactics while attacking Pathankot air force base, say sources
New Delhi: Even though the security agencies are claiming that all the six terrorists involved in the Pathankot attack have been neutralised, the combing operations have not yet been officially called off. The security agencies have claimed that the terrorists displayed 'professional army-like tactics' while attacking the Pathankot air base strike.

Sources also say that the level of training of the Pathankot terrorists seems to be even better than that of the Mumbai 26/11 attackers. Huge quantity of explosives, rifles and rocket launchers has been found from the site of the attack.
The terrorists used all the tactics of professional fighters like conserving firepower, attacking at 3 AM when the level of alertness is at its lowest and going quiet to give the impression that all the attackers had died, and also to fire at a crowded mess-like area where mostly people are unarmed, show the military precision that was involved.

Reports suggest that the terrorists might have entered the campus before an alert was sounded while crucial hours were lost in verifying Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh's claims about his abduction by terrorists. Immediately after the alarm was sounded, security at all vital installations, including the Pathankot air base in Punjab, was enhanced to the highest level to make it difficult for the terrorists to mount an attack.

Reports also say that police officers whom the SP had informed about the terrorists initially did not may heed to his statements, leading to the operation being delayed by nearly 15 hours.

Security agencies are suspecting there were six terrorists and they were divided into two groups - one of 4 and the other with 2 members. The four in the first group were killed on Saturday while the two members of the second group were fighting till Monday.

In a joint press conferences, senior security officials said that terrorists were holed up in a double storey from where they were firing. The building was blasted off by the security forces on Monday. The forces claimed that the operation is in its final stage and is heading towards completion.

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