The 12-hour-long Gurdaspur gunbattle has ended with security forces gunning down all the terrorists who, in army uniform, first sprayed bullets on a moving bus and then stormed a police station in what was the first major terror strike in Punjab in eight years. A Superintendent of Police and at least 12 others also died and several others injured in the encounter, about 20 km from India’s border with Pakistan.
According to Punjab Police IG (Counter Intelligence) Gaurav Yadav, SP Baljit Singh succumbed to bullet injuries sustained in the gunbattle. Police said out of the eight injured brought to civil hospital at Gurdaspur, seven seriously injured were referred to Amritsar. They all were aged between 15-54 years.
According to the police, the attackers first targeted a roadside eatery and took off in a white Maruti 800 with Punjab registration number. They shot dead a roadside vendor near Dinanagar bypass and opened fire on passengers of a moving Punjab roadways bus before targeting a community health centre adjacent to Dinanagar police station. The gunmen then barged into the Dinanagar police station and opened indiscriminate fire. The militants also targeted another part of the complex where the families of police personnel reside and hurled grenades.
In a related development, five live bombs were found on Amritsar-Pathankot railway track and the train services on the route were suspended. Dinanagar town, which is close to Pakistan, is sandwiched between Gurdaspur town on one side and Pathankot on the other and lies about 260 km from capital Chandigarh.
India warns Pakistan
Official sources said it was too early to say which terrorist outfit had carried out the strike, but the needle of suspicion is on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad since the modus operandi of the militants was similar to the attacks in Jammu region in the recent past. The government reacted strongly with Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying he will make a statement in Parliament over the attacks on Tuesday.
“I want to tell our neighbour that we want peace but not at the cost of our national pride. I have said this earlier and I will say it again that while we will not be the first to attack or fire, but if challenged, will give a befitting reply (munh-tod jawab),” he said. Rajnath said he was was unable to understand why cross-border terror incidents were continuing unabated despite India wanting good relations with Pakistan.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval about the situation. Singh said he will make a statement on the issue tomorrow in Parliament, where members today sought a detailed government response. Strongly condemning the terror strike, Badal said that terrorism was a national issue. “Terrorism is a national problem, it is not a state problem. It has to be tackled by national policies,” Badal said and demanded that the border be sealed.
On October 14, 2007, seven persons were killed and more than 30 were injured when a powerful explosion took place at the cinema hall in Ludhiana, the last major terror attack in the state which had grappled with Sikh militancy for several years from the 1980s.