Pathankot attack: Terrorists entered base Jan 1, cabbie who was killed got call from Pakistan, says official

NSG arrived at airbase after state alerted Centre: officials

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: January 5, 2016 11:17 am
pathankot, pathankot attack, pathankot air base attack, pathankot martyr, pathankot operations, pathankot news, punjab news india news, latest news Security personnel check IAF employees near the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot during the third day of the operations against militants on Monday. (Source: PTI)

The terrorists who struck at the airbase in Pathankot in the early hours of January 2 had most likely entered the defence installation during the afternoon of January 1 itself, security officials have told The Indian Express.

Punjab police, security forces and central intelligence agencies knew this on that day and had, therefore, prepared to pre-empt the attack by deploying men and material at the base beginning that afternoon, a top official here said. The state government had alerted New Delhi about the possible terror attack on Pathankot at around noon on January 1, saying that terrorists seemed to have infiltrated into Punjab. It was after the state’s alert, sources said, that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval called an emergency meeting and the National Security Guards (NSG) were sent to Punjab.

Read: Delhi Police question Army Major, 2 ‘associates’

Investigations are also on into a possible local angle focusing on why taxi driver Ikagar Singh left his home late in the night after a phone call. Officials said a phone call from Pakistan was made to his number. He left home soon after this, telling his family members that he had received a phone call from a nearby village to take someone to the hospital. The person whose name Ikagar mentioned denied making the phone call.

Read: Three alerts sent to BSF, Punjab Police in 3 months

Sources said the infiltrators were tracked to a thickly forested area inside the air-base around 3.30 pm on January 1 through mobile towers, as they were making phone calls to Pakistan from a local number, the official said. The number belonged to the Superintendent of Police whose vehicle the terrorists had snatched earlier that day, in the pre-dawn hours of January 1.

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Several calls were made from that number to Pakistan through the day. The mobile tower areas from which the calls were made indicate the terrorists were already inside the air base, the official said.

READ: US expects Pakistan will take action against attackers

“It was at around 3.30 pm on January 1, when the tower location pointed towards the forest area. The forest is known to be thick, lined with heaps of debris. Since we knew that the terrorists must be on a jihadi mission and would be certainly carrying lethal ammunition, it was not sensible to have started the combing operation when it was getting dark. We could not have risked the lives of our troops. Hence, we alerted everyone to ensure that the casualty is minimum,” said a top police source.

hs“We did not want to take any chances,” a police official said. “The foremost thing was to step up security of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, who were advised to stay put at a safe place. Later, at around 11 pm that night, we got the main doors of all the police stations in Pathankot shut. We wanted to pre-empt a repeat of Dina Nagar. A sentry each was posted at the entrance of each police station.” (On July 27, 2015, three gunmen in Army uniform fired on a bus and attacked the Dina Nagar police station in Gurdaspur killing three civilains anmd four policemen, including an SP).

The Indian Air Force was alerted and the barracks and messes were vacated besides stepping up security at their vital installations, “We knew the jihadis would want to launch an attack by targeting maximum people in sleep. That is the reason they struck at 3 am. And we were fully prepared. The killings were not as many as they might have planned. We have averted a massive tragedy.”

He said the local police officers did not believe the Superintendent of Police, Salwinder Singh, when he complained to the Pathankot police about his abduction. “Even we, at the headquarters, went along with the local police officers. But around noon, after the questioning of the SP and his associates, there were more than one reason to set the alarm bells ringing. Hence, we alerted the centre. By 4.30 pm. the NSG had reached the airbase.”

By then the terrorists had reached the IAF base in Pathankot by successfully crossing the first line of defense manned by Defense Security Corps (DSC). Sources said the police are still in the dark about how the second group, likely comprising two terrorists, entered the IAF base.

“The jihadis are highly motivated and well-trained, they would have brought ammunition along in their backpacks. They would have used Google maps to reach their destination. But the possibility of their getting help from some locals cannot be ruled out. We are probing the possible links of terrorists with the smugglers active on both sides of the border, who could be their local handlers. Also, we are probing Ikagar, the driver who was murdered by terrorists since he got a call from Pakistan and it was only after that he got out of his house at midnight. He was the only one who was murdered and he was the only one who got a call from Pakistan. He was killed,” said the source. 

Sources said police are also scrutinising the conduct Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh in the run-up to his encounter with terrorists. A senior police officer said several of his statements do not add up, “We are left wondering what was he doing at that spot at that time of the night in his official car. That, too, without his own driver. Also, we need to answer a question as to how the jihadis left the SP without even injuring him while his associate was almost killed by slitting his neck. It was sheer providence that saved him.”

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  1. A
    Avinash
    Jan 5, 2016 at 1:39 am
    Why have you provided airbase map?
    Reply
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      Operation_Slow_Motion
      Jan 5, 2016 at 4:51 am
      I just came to know why it is taking so long for India to kill all attackers: On the way to the base, there are big road blockers that says "GO SLOW" like the one you see in the picture above.
      Reply
      1. P
        Paul
        Jan 5, 2016 at 3:04 am
        SP is holding back vital information. He might be part of the smuggling group who got roped in.
        Reply
        1. P
          Paul
          Jan 5, 2016 at 3:33 am
          You are Islamist stani writing under the name "Hindu". Every body can see through your idiocity.
          Reply
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            NitWiterazzi
            Jan 5, 2016 at 1:05 am
            Media should stop giving maps and sordid details of the operations so that the enemies dont get live information about the operation
            Reply
            1. O
              Odd_Even_Kejriwal
              Jan 5, 2016 at 4:31 am
              Kejri should apply Jadhoo on terrorists now!
              Reply
              1. M
                Mavala
                Jan 4, 2016 at 11:34 pm
                The plot thickens, seems there are many layers to this episode and it bot over yet. A good write up of the events so far.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Anil Bharali
                  Jan 7, 2016 at 2:16 am
                  The Corrupt and communal forces in the security apparatus is the problem. they are not patriot that's why this things are happening. The pro-colonial elements in Indian security apparatus i.e MI6 and CIA agents are playing behind it.
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    Karunakaran
                    Jan 4, 2016 at 11:39 pm
                    There are reports that the drug mafia is very strong in the border areas, transporting huge quanies of drugs from Afghanistan and stan to India. Obviously the drug mafia has all sorts of players - security personnel, taxi service providers, accommodation providers! If the taxis and vehicles in the border areas are forced to install GPS devices that store the data of their travels including location and times, there is a better chance India can deal with the drug mafia better. The terrorists come piggyback on the established drug networks.
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      Karunakaran
                      Jan 4, 2016 at 11:45 pm
                      USA, UK, Israel also make good use of dogs (and reportedly other animals) to watch over sensitive sites - as humans tend to become terribly lazy after a few years of inactivity. Most Indian military officers do no manual work, and grow huge tummies! So, dogs come handy. Isn't it strange that the military sites so close to the border have no dog squads to provide an extra layer of security?
                      Reply
                      1. K
                        Kaliyug
                        Jan 4, 2016 at 11:35 pm
                        There is a corrupt regime running and ruining Punjab, the BJP may need their help to stay in power,, but these people are only interested in lining their pockets. The SP is and has always been rewarded by the drug trade, he was in a place where normally a SP should not be in the night. The taxi driver gets killed, the person with the SP has his throat slit, the SP walks out without his vehicle but unhurt. Wahe Guru did not save this rogue, he is definitely part of the problem.
                        Reply
                        1. M
                          madhur
                          Jan 5, 2016 at 1:28 am
                          I never understand this 'Well-armed, well-trained, highly motivated" terrorists... What are our troops then ?? Untrained, lathi-armed, demotivated ?!! May be they should be trained across the border going forward ... Our armed forces are increasingly looking like police and we know very well how the police is... This makes us look so weak and incompetent globally when we have all the means and resources at hand. How are we going to achieve surgical strikes or wage a war when we can not even crush this vermin the moment they cross into our side of the border !!
                          Reply
                          1. J
                            jaspal verma
                            Jan 5, 2016 at 8:45 am
                            why political leader blaming each other. let find those Indian people whose help all suppose terrorists.all terrorist stay in patankot area finf the people and also find way from they come in India. i think they not killed Indian people they make fear in india
                            Reply
                            1. R
                              R G
                              Jan 7, 2016 at 11:05 am
                              Ahmedbhai! Do you open an umbrella here when it rains in some other country?
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                R G
                                Jan 7, 2016 at 5:39 am
                                Are the newspapers aiding the terrorists by featuring the maps of a vital installation on their site? Indian Express and other newspapers should realise that with their 'attractive' reporting they are playing into the hands of the extremists.
                                Reply
                                1. M
                                  Mahan Murphy
                                  Jan 5, 2016 at 1:33 am
                                  To make radcliff agreement null and voild stan di this pathankot battle. Watch this. youtube/watch?v=B7evBKg_7sQ
                                  Reply
                                  1. N
                                    Nationalist
                                    Jan 6, 2016 at 8:15 am
                                    god is not handmade but his human cognizable image is handmade....by the way....who is that allah for whom you guys are shouting 5 times everyday......whats his address.....why you all show him ur en-m......
                                    Reply
                                    1. m
                                      michelle_vedic_human
                                      Jan 5, 2016 at 11:10 am
                                      Adeel Ahmed,-----try saying allah in reverse,----becomes halla,-----a terrosist made God,----suits well on you and your followers.
                                      Reply
                                      1. m
                                        michelle_vedic_human
                                        Jan 5, 2016 at 2:38 am
                                        One question I also would like to raise with Punjab police,------why not or delay in getting NIA to take up the matter??????-------certainly something is really fishy here,------Punjab police needs to be rounded up and investigated,------remove them from the boarders as guards and Indian armies to be replaced,------I would suggest and recommend to chief of Indian armies that,------same personnel sohould not be allowed from same states but from different states to cross boarder quard,-------this way the intelligents will be honest and alert and quick to act against any infiltration of terrosist attack.
                                        Reply
                                        1. m
                                          michelle_vedic_human
                                          Jan 5, 2016 at 5:47 am
                                          Sharan,-----am not quite clear which religious back ground are you from,------if Christian,---than stop worshipping that idol picture or photo which you light a candle,----you say that Jesus was here to save us,------but he couldn't save his own self when getting nailed by his own cruel people,---after all,-----statue, idol, icon, picture,-----makes no difference since they don't talk,walk,laugh or cry for you,----if you Muslim,-----than stop worshipping dead people in dargah,------an idol Macca by going anti clockwise around in circles,----and facing idol Macca since they are not God,------look at your own backyard first before speculating on another's religion,-----FYI,---the oldest,----purest,---civilised,----organised,----religion of this world is HINDUISM,----which is beyond history,------these other baby religions born 1400-2000 yrs ago thought they were intelligent and became the biggest fools who in return became terrosists killing one another,----it's evident in the world today.
                                          Reply
                                          1. m
                                            michelle_vedic_human
                                            Jan 5, 2016 at 2:16 am
                                            Well,---one can now figure out the entry point of terrosists and spreading all over India during congress rule,---was Punjab,------the traitors lies amongst the Punjab state,-----as soon as BJP came to power,-------the truth started emerging,------Punjab state ministers----police cons tables,-----boarder guards needs to be thoroughly investigated,-----Punjab should be declared a prez rule until all investigation is conducted and cleared,---their are some elements in within Punjab state who are traitors and willing to distabalize HINDUSTAN,----no wonder how terrosists make entry into India without detection is beyond questionable.
                                            Reply
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