JPC: Pathankot- India’s Pride And Joy

Neha Kapoor of The Hindu writes on the recent devastating Pathankot attacks and reforms in Indian Intelligence agencies. 

The citizens of India hadn’t even finished with the 2016 New Year celebrations when terrorists attacked the most lively state of India: Punjab.

On 2nd January 2016, terrorists opened fire in Pathankot Air Force Station. A gun battle between security forces and terrorists took place till 5th January. Four attackers and two security personnel were killed in the initial battle and later an injured additional security member died. The gun battle and the subsequent combing operation lasted about 17 hours on 2 January, resulting in five attacks and three security personnel dead on that same day. Every day till the 5th of January fresh gunshots were heard, and soldiers subsequently severely injured.

On New Year’s eve, four men hijacked a multi-utility vehicle belonging to Salwinder Singh, a superindendent (SP) of the Punjab police in Dinanagar. As expected, all of this was linked to the attack.

The damage done by the terrorists was pretty mild, taking into consideration the amount of explosives and arms they owned. The number of civilians that live near the area or who pass by regularly could have been severely injured, planes attacked or even the whole base made totally inoperable, thus what happened was definitely sickening; however, the situation could’ve been worse.

One thing that no one is clear on is that the terrorists used Salwinder Singh’s car to enter the premises. While it’s strange that his car was conveniently available to be hijacked, he was also the person who alerted the authorities that an attack was imminent. Proper explanations were not provided by authorities.

The fact that there were intelligence inputs which were not acted upon, the casualties caused by the terrorists, the reason why the emergency was not handled by sequentially calling in forces starting with the nearest first, the role of the NSA, the evidence provided by SP Salwinder Singh, and that this attack took place not long

There were intelligence inputs that were not acted upon that led to unnecessary casualties. The emergency was not handled in a proper manner by calling in security forces. The role of NSA and information provided by SP S. Singh was not used to its full potential and the most suspicious fact was that this attack took place not after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad.

Whatever happened could have been prevented by bringing reforms into the Indian Intelligence Agencies.

The paradigm shift in the nature of the security challenges facing the country lends urgency to the need for reforms in country’s intelligence apparatus. There is a need for comprehensive, not piecemeal, reforms. The focus of this committee should be on removing the deficiencies within the system, improving coordination between intelligence agencies and ensuring better accountability and oversight.

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