With the Punjab Police drawing flak in the blame game over “lapses” that led to the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has rallied to the defence of the state police. Badal said Friday had Punjab Police not been the “first” to flag the presence of terrorists in the area, the “damage” could have been much more.
“Punjab Police did a commendable job. The police control room received the first information at 3.30 in the morning and immediately teams were rushed to the spot. Combing operations were started and we were able to locate the first car used by the terrorists and found the body. By 7.30 am, all relevant authorities, including the Government of India, were informed. Within three-four hours, all this was done. I think had it not been for the Punjab Police and information shared by us, it could have led to a bigger disaster,” Badal told The Indian Express.
“I should tell you that a very senior officer called me yesterday and thanked me on behalf of the Government of India for the excellent job done by the Punjab Police. He told me that because of Punjab Police, the damage was not higher… The Government of India is highly appreciative of our role,” he said.
Asked if the first alert to the Centre came from the Punjab government, he replied in the affirmative. “Yes, Punjab Police sent the first alert.”
On the role of SP Salwinder Singh, who claimed he was abducted by terrorists involved in the attack, Badal said, “The role of the SP is under investigation by the NIA as well as the Government of Punjab. I read somewhere in the media that he (SP) should have been investigated first. Our first priority was to secure the airbase and its surroundings, eliminate all the terrorists. Having done that, we are now going to connect the dots, put together the sequence of events to find out how it happened, who was responsible. Whosoever is found responsible will be put behind bars.”
Asked what steps was the SAD-BJP government taking in the wake of the Pathankot attack, Badal said the state government had decided to step up security.
“We have already decided to take steps to strengthen our presence in the area, create a fresh line of control there. We are stationing our DIG Counter-Intelligence and Operations in that area. A special commando battalion and a SWAT unit will be established for the Pathankot region. We have decided to shift one of the police lines to that area to ensure that our border is more secure. I even met Home Minister Rajnath Singh today to request increase of BSF presence on the border. The level of BSF deployment on this border is less than half of the border in J&K. He (Rajnath Singh) also said the Punjab Police has done an excellent job,” Badal said.