Gurdaspur Casts Shadow On Ufa

Attack ends after 11-hour gunfight, 3 militants among 10 killed

NEW DELHI: Suspected militants stormed a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district on Monday, killing seven people and wounding 10 others in an attack that is likely to cast a cloud on resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan.

At least three gunmen attacked a passenger bus and stormed a police station in Dinanagar early Monday, killing seven persons including an SP, before being gunned down after a 11-hour firefight. The frontier district of Gurdaspur is close to the Jammu and Kashmir border and 20 kms from the border with Pakistan. 

The first such strike in Punjab in nearly a decade also revived fears of Khalistani militant groups making a comeback in the state.

Punjab Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini said the terrorists, wearing combat fatigues, were carrying two GPS systems and hand grenades. Five bombs placed by the terrorists on the railway tracks were removed by a bomb disposal squad. 

Though there was no official word on who the attackers were, but they are suspected to have sneaked into India from Pakistan through the unfenced border between Jammu and Pathankot or Chak Hira in Jammu district.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval about the situation. Later, he met top officials to review the security situation in the wake of the attack.

Singh said he will make a statement on the issue on Tuesday in Parliament, where members on Monday sought a detailed government response.

Earlier a security operation against militants ended after 11 hours after four cops, 3 militants and 3 civilians were dead.

According to police four heavily armed militants after stealing a white car (PB09B-7743) stormed into a police station and amid indiscriminate firing made several cops hostage inside the police station.

Throughout the day, regular bouts of small arms fire echoed across the town of Dinanagar and the paddy fields around it. Four policemen including Superintendent of Police Baljit Singh and three civilians were killed, before the government forces neutralized three militants.

Police officials said that the siege focused on an abandoned building where the attackers holed up. It dragged on because security forces had wanted to capture at least one of the militants alive.

Police sources added that the attackers entered India from Pakistan two days ago in Jammu and Kashmir.

Minister Jitendra Singh said he did not rule out Pakistan’s involvement.

“There have also been earlier reports of Pakistan infiltration and cross-border mischief in this area,” said Singh, whose constituency in the Jammu region borders Gurdaspur.

Attacks on security installations by militants dressed as soldiers or police are common in Jammu, but Monday’s was the first such assault in Punjab in 13 years, according to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which tracks militant violence.  

Talking to reporters a police official said that the attackers are suspected to have sneaked into India from Pakistan through the unfenced border between Jammu and Pathankot or Chak Hira in Jammu district to launch the brazen assault about which central agencies had intelligence inputs. 

   Giving details about the attack, police said that the attackers wearing Army uniforms, reached Parmanand village on Jammu and Kashmir’s border with Punjab where they attempted to hijack a tempo at 5.30 AM. The tempo driver, however, managed to flee. Later they hijacked a Maruti 800 car after injuring its driver who is hospitalized, before killing a roadside vendor near Dinanagar bypass and spraying a Punjab roadways bus with bullets.They then stormed Dinanagar police station and shot dead a sentry. Showing guts, an alert head constable picked up the rifle of the deceased sentry and fired at the militants.

Critical Time

The attack came at a time national security advisers of the two countries were scheduled to meet in New Delhi, which was decided at Modi and Sharif’s Ufa engagement.

New Delhi treaded with caution about the future of talks as any evidence of the three attackers getting support from Pakistan would completely jeopardise the Ufa bonhomie, sources said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh articulated New Delhi’s dilemma. “I cannot understand why time and again cross-border terror incidents are taking place when we want good relations with our neighbour (Pakistan). I want to tell our neighbour that we want peace but not at the cost of our national pride.”

JK Police Rushes Bullet Proof Vehicles 

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir police today rushed bullet proof vehicles to Punjab for its use following the terror attack in Gurdaspur district. ”We received the request from the Punjab police and we have already dispatched bullet proof vehicles for Punjab, these vehicles are being used by the Punjab police in the ongoing encounter with the terrorists in Gurdaspur,” Director General of Police K Rajendra said. 

He said that no men of the J&K police have been sent for the encounter, but only the bullet proof vehicles and bullet proof jackets as demanded by the Punjab police. 

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