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Live: 2 terrorists still inside; efforts on to nab them

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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A fresh grenade blast ripped through the air force base on Sunday morning claiming the life of an NSG commando, as three other security men succumbed to injuries in a hospital after Saturday's terror attack taking the toll of security personnel to seven.

Lt Col Niranjan, a member of the NSG's Bomb Disposal Squad, was killed while he was defusing the grenade at the scene of the terror attack as part of the combing operations that continued through the night. Four other security men were also injured in the blast.

Three members of the Defence Security Corps (DSC) succumbed to injuries in the hospital during the night.

Four attackers, a Garud commando and three DSC were killed yesterday when heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists had attempted to storm the base, triggering a day-long gunbattle at the airbase, barely 35 kms from the Indo-Pak border.

Here are the live updates:

14: 52 (IST): 

14:47 (IST): Centre blames Punjab Police for failing to act on advance intelligence.

14:40 (IST): Five companies comprising nearly 500 personnel have been deployed by the Army in the operation.

14:40 (IST): Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi will be doing a press conference around 5 PM 

14:11 (IST): Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Pathankot terror attack.

14.05 (IST): 

14:01 (IST): The NSG officer lost his life when he went to collect the body of a slain terrorist. There were explosives around the body. Only investigation would say if explosives have been deliberately strapped to the body or it was accidental: sources

14:00 (IST): Firing on from two sides of a particular building leading to assumption that two terrorists have survive. It seems a tactical approach by terrorists to go silent last night and start firing again in the afternoon. Mopping operations could not be completed after sundown last night but area was cordoned so no one could escape, say sources.

13:58 (IST): 

13:51 (IST): No gunshots heard from last 10 minutes.

13:49 (IST): 

13:47 (IST): In security review meeting, Joint Commissioners of Police have briefed constables about the situtation and told them about SOP to be followed. Cops have been told that NSG and SWAT commandos have been deployed, and paramilitary personnel will provide security cover to vital installations.

13:44 (IST): The police was earlier also cautioned by the intelligence agencies about LeT module strike.

13:40 (IST): Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi met senior officers to discuss the input that JeM terrorists entered the national capital. Delhi Police has also sought and got additional companies of Central Paramilitary Force to guard the vital installations. 

13:27 (IST): 

13:22 (IST): Operation is still on. It's not clear how many terrorists are still holding up. At least two terrorists still inside: DIG Border Ranger Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh

13:13 (IST): Security personnel are attempting to catch him alive, say sources.

13:11 (IST): One terrorist still holed up inside the Air Force base.

13:11 (IST): Fresh firing at Pathankot Air Force base

13:09 (IST): Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to visit Pathankot Air Force base.

13:08 (IST): Explosion heard from inside Indian Air Force base. The unexploded ammunition from Saturday's operation is being destroyed.

13:00 (IST): Two Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists entered Delhi. The security has been beefed up and all important places have been put on high alert.

13:00 (IST): The death toll of those martyred in the Pathankot attack has risen to seven.

12:59 (IST): A grenade exploded during fresh search operations on Sunday morning and resulted in the death of a NSG soldier, injuring three others.

12:59 (IST): Three Defence Security Corps jawans, who were injured in the terror attack, succumbed to his injuries. 

12:58 (IST): The attack helicopters are doing reconnaissance sorties over the Air Force station. The security has also been stepped up in other Air Force bases in Jammu, Awantipur, Srinagar and Udhampur.

12:58 (IST): The entire air base has now been sanitised and there are no more terrorist there.

12:57 (IST): The 12-member team will led by SK Singh. The NIA will take over formally only on Monday but team has already begun its work. The Directror General of NIA is likely to visit Pathankot encounter site in next two days.

12:57 (IST): The National Investigation Agency team will file case over the Pathankot attack and will include all sections -- kidnapping, Unlawful Activities Preventions Act, crossing illegally, waging war against country, murder, conspiracy.

12:56 (IST): The Pathankot IAF facility, located about 40 kms away from the border with Pakistan, is the base of MiG-21 fighter planes and Mi-25 attack helicopters of Air Force.

12:56 (IST): The terrorists could not go beyond the 'langar' (eating place) near the outer perimeter of the IAF complex as the security forces were ready to take them on, the sources said, about the operation which was supervised directly by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

12:56 (IST): Defence sources said the terrorists sneaked into the nearly 2000-acre air base through a forested area where were confronted by the Quick Reaction Team of Garud commandos. They managed to go up to 400 metres but were still 700 metres away from the area where fighters were stationed.

12:56 (IST): The terrorists were carrying Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), 52 mm mortars, AK rifles and GPS machine. Based on intercepts, security agencies believe that one Nazeer from Bahawalpur in Pakistan was leading the group.

12:56 (IST): Four JeM terrorists were killed in the 15-hour long gun-battle. 

12:55 (IST): Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists stormed the Pathankot Air Force base on Saturday.

 

Pakistan to focus on peace process with India: Sartaj Aziz

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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Pakistan prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, has said his country will focus on consolidating the peace process with India, hours after five terrorists suspected to be from across the border attacked an air base in Punjab’s Pathankot.

© Provided by Hindustan Times

Aziz told Radio Pakistanin an interviewon Saturday evening that foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet in Islamabad on January 15 to draw up a roadmap on comprehensive dialogue for the next six months.

The dialogue will cover all issues, including Kashmir, Siachen and water, he added.

The adviser told the state-owned radio station that there was “visible improvement” in relations with India and Afghanistan.

This comes hours after five terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, attacked an air force base in Punjab’s Pathankot and killed three securitymen before being gunned down in a 15-hour encounter.

Pakistan has condemned the attackand reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terror, but Indian authorities are learnt to be upset about its inability to rein in ISI-sponsored jihadis .

Highly placed sources said Delhi has evidence tracing the attack to Pakistan’s Bahawalpur, where Jaish-e-Muhammed leader Masood Azhar is based, and that it has the signature of the ISI.

They also said India plans to ask Pakistan to take penal action against the outlawed JeM for a productive foreign secretary-level dialogue to take place.

PHOTOS: IAF base in Pathankot attacked

Terror Pathankot Air Force base attacked

VIDEO: Pathankot attack: Questions that need to be asked

Read:Day after Pathankot attack, fresh explosion heard; soldier injured

 

Will make it easier to do scientific research: PM Modi

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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Will make it easier to do scientific research: PM Modi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Source: PTI Photo© pti Prime Minister Narendra Modi Source: PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday told scientists that the government would make it easier to do scientific research in the country and asked them to keep the five principles of economy, environment, energy, empathy, equity at the centre of enquiry and engineering.

Addressing the 103rd Indian Science Congress in Mysuru, he also said he was encouraging greater scientific collaboration between central and state institutions and agencies as part of cooperative federalism.

"We will make it easier to do science research in India," said Modi, as the annual five-day mega science event began at the "Manasa Gangotri" campus of the University of Mysore with over 500 eminent scientists and experts from the country and abroad scheduled to address the meet.

He emphasised on what he called "Five Es", saying the impact of science would be the most when scientists and technologists keep the principles "Economy, Environment, Energy, Empathy, Equity" at the centre of enquiry and engineering. The Prime Minister also told the scientists that the rising challenges of rapid urbanisation must be addressed as it would be critical for a sustainable world.

"...Cities are the major engines of economic growth, employment opportunities and prosperity... but, cities account for more than two-thirds of global energy demand and result in up to 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emission...," he noted.

Modi said better scientific tools must be developed to improve city planning with sensitivity to local ecology and heritage and affordable and practical solutions found for solid waste management.

Stressing that a sustainable future for this planet would depend not only on "what we do on land, but also on how we treat our oceans", he said the government had increased focus on ocean or blue economy. "We will raise the level of our scientific efforts in marine science," he said.

 

Bomb scare at New Delhi railway station halts trains

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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New Delhi: Many trains are being halted and some are being delayed at New Delhi Railway station on Sunday after the bomb scare on Delhi-Kanpur train. Railway board was informed by Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad after the latter received an e-mail threatening of bomb blast on Delhi-Kanpur train.

Lucknow Shatabdi Express was evacuated at Ghaziabad railway station following bomb scare. The train was thoroughly checked and nothing suspicious was found, said Neeraj Sharma, CPRO Northern Railways.

The Assistant Sub-Inspector wrote to the chief station manager requesting him that all Delhi-Kanpur trains be checked before being allowed to leave. The Railways termed it as a precautionary measure.

The Inspector General (operations) of Railways issued an order in the morning to search all trains going from New Delhi and Old Delhi railway station.

Neeraj Sharma said that the bomb squad and dog squad are at railway stations to check all trains.

The Neelanchal Express has left the station after thorough search.

The bomb threat came a day after the Pathankot Air Force base was stormed by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists. Five terrorists were killed and four security personnel were martyred in the encounter which went on for 15 hours.

 

Pathankot: Before attack, terrorists dodged security for 24 hours

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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A group of five terrorists managed to dodge security personnel for more than 24 hours before mounting an attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, which experts attributed to chinks in the security set-up of the border districts of Punjab.

The audacious attack comes barely six months after a similar terror strike in Gurdaspur’s Dinanagar town that left 10 people, including a superintendent of police (SP) dead, exposing gaps in the security surveillance of the international border with Pakistan.

Commodore Uday Bhaskar (retd), director, Society for Policy Studies said the fact that the terrorists had a free run for a long time reflects gaps in information and intelligence sharing between local and higher levels.

The Pathankot terror attack started at 12.15am on Friday from Kathlore bridge, barely 15km from the border, when the group of terrorists in army fatigues flagged down a sports utility vehicle driven by Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh. Little did he know that the men in uniform were terrorists who had brutally stabbed and killed the driver of an Innova SUV and abandoned it when its tyres burst.

The terrorists barged into the SP’s vehicle, tied up and thrashed the three occupants before commandeering it for an hour. They threw the SP out of the moving vehicle near Tajpur and used the GPS to find their way to the Pathankot air base nearby.

SP’s input taken lightly?

The SP called up the police control room with a villager’s help and later informed his seniors about the young, heavily armed terrorists with backpacks and their plans to attack the air base. The SP’s aides told police about the four terrorists’ plans to avenge the 2013 hanging of the Afzal Guru, who was convicted for the attack on Parliament in 2001.

Initially, it seems, the police did not trust the SP who reportedly told them that the abductors were in army uniform and had sophisticated weapons. The police were even looking at the possibility of personal enmity behind the crime. The police authorities in neighbouring Jammu and Kangra districts were also caught unawares and hinted at the enmity angle.

Former chief of Bureau of Police Research and Development NR Wasan termed the response of Punjab police as “underwhelming” after one of the senior officers was abducted and his vehicle snatched.

“The state police is and will always remain first responder and have to be in the forefront in countering terrorists and supporters,” he said.

Calls to Pakistan lend credence

It was only when the Gurdaspur SP’s mobile phone, which was taken away by terrorists, was put on monitoring and calls were traced to Pakistan on Friday evening did the security agencies get to confirm the terror link.

By Friday night, it was clear that the intended target of the terrorists was the Pathankot air base. Punjab Police ADGP (crime) HS Dhillon, IG (border range) Lok Nath Angra and DIG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh were locked in a meeting through the day.

High alert, low follow-up

Despite the heads up on the presence of terrorists in the vicinity and the consequent state of high alert on Friday, the terrorists managed to enter the high security Pathankot air force base, spread over 20 sq km.

© Provided by Hindustan Times

The encounter began around 3am on Saturday, almost 24 hours since the terrorists left the first trail by killing the Innova driver, raising a question mark over the security of defence establishments near the India-Pakistan border.

Besides the IAF base in Pathankot, Punjab has frontline IAF bases in Adampur (near Jalandhar), Halwara (near Ludhiana) and Bathinda and substantial army presence at various places, including Jalandhar (11 Corps), Pathankot, Amritsar, Bathinda (10 Corps) and Patiala (1st Armoured Division).

 

3 lessons for India after Pathankot terror attack

Sunday, 03 January 2016 15:31 Oriya Publisher
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After the Pathankot incursion India has to realise three things

One.

The Pakistan terror monster has broken its shackles and roams free. It is beyond the control of army and the government.

Now let's examine the statement.

Surely, the authorities have a fair idea of where the camps are and how they are funded. It is difficult to believe that the underground is so well concealed and isolated there are no informants. By that token why are these camps still functioning? While one accepts that acts of terror occur in Pakistan too and that is the evidence they show as being victims and not perpetrators there has to be a quantitative and qualitative difference between the two...attacks on India are acts of war, not internal strife.

The point then hovers over the grey aspect of how much of terror activity is planned in Pakistan with tacit permission, how much through the convenient 'blind eye' and how much without so much as a by your leave. Has the monster become hydra-headed or is it still on a leash, albeit a long one?

Let us take the seven terrorists who came across what is still largely a porous border and were killed. They must have had support and infrastructure to make the crossing. On both sides at that. For a few days they would have needed a safe house and food and drink where they would have lain low. Somebody got them that vehicle. And the weapons. And the will to die. There must have been communications occurring over a period of time. And those records should be available. The fact that Intelligence got a heads up in time to contain the damage indicates there is a system of information which flows in different directions at the border. Somebody thankfully talked or was an embedded agent. This makes sense because the seven did not take this assignment to stop at just two deaths. Their aim must have been much higher. To that extent we have to be thankful that Indian vigilance is working and can only hope it dismantles as many any semi-sleeper rings that operate in this region. The more information we glean the stronger we become.

The need now would be to create a cordon sanitaire at the border and upscale surveillance even more.
Unfortunately all seven terrorists died (a captured one is worth ten kills) so it is only a surmise that they were all the number that crossed the border ...how many more have filtered into other towns? An alert till the conduit is closed makes sense. There should be no letting up on finding those who aided and abetted the enemy. A message has to be sent out loud and clear that they don't mess with India without consequences.

Two.

This will not stop. India knows that. It is not a surprise that whenever there is a move towards peace, whether scheduled or spontaneous there is this aggressive distraction to sabotage it. It invariably gives the hawks grounds for going back to square one and sanctifies suspicion and distrust. That it occurs so soon after Prime Minister Modi's visit to Lahore will give fodder to those who want create a link. Don't. It serves no purpose.

All too often perceptions are as relevant as facts and while India's agencies may well be putting pressure on the other side and taking actions we are not privy to, the general feeling is that India's 'befitting replies' are anaemic at best. You get the impression that the Pakistani military believes India will froth a bit at the mouth, spray rhetoric and then things will be 'normal' again. Rather like the kid in the school who keeps warning the bully 'you hit me again, you see, you hit me again, you watch it,' Indian governments far too often let such attacks pass into history. We might like to rework our priorities and put a timeline on our wish list and give it to Pakistan to measure its intent in this war on terrorism. This is something we do not do, thereby leaving our demands open ended. Islamabad does not take New Delhi seriously.

Three

Strong defence is a great offence. We need to put our armed forces might on the cutting edge of 21st military armament.

You want drones, get them. You want gunships buy them. You need to upgrade your fighters and go back to full strength (seven squadrons short) well then, move on it and stop moaning about the MiGs. There are 9 fourth generation fighters up there for sale. Our tanks need upgrading. If the T14 Armata is the replacement from Russia let's go for it. We never truly replaced the Bofors 'shoot and scoot' 155 mm howitzer, more interested in the political skulduggery that accompanied it than the worthiness of the gun itself. Look at the brouhaha over the purchase of the two decade old Rafale. We cannot even work out how many we should buy.

We are short on ammo. Our naval fleet needs more punch. Our subs catch fire. Our procurement is predicated to the priorities of the parties in power not long term planning. One could rabbit on endlessly. By now with our in-house hi tech savvy we should have begun manufacture of a range of missiles instead of importing them at prodigious cost.

At this moment none of our forces are battle inoculated. We do not like to recognise these flaws and we scream in shrill rage at those who say, hey, we have to arm our forces and have them fighting fit and maintain their morale.

In a nation where the IAS is given precedence and the chiefs of the services come low on the pecking order what price that morale.

It is not enough to say we are proud they are ready to die for their country.

At least arm them well so they have a fighting chance.

 
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