Early in the morning today terrorists attacked an Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot in Punjab leading to a fierce gunbattle with the security forces. Four militants have been killed while three Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel lost their lives. More than six men were also injured in this attack.
The attack is suspected to have been carried out by the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
It is believed that four or five militants, from Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group in army uniform launched the attack in the morning hours with the purpose of destroying the air base. According to police officials, the attack was launched soon after a combing operation was carried out by the army on Friday in the area between the Air Base and Chakki river.
The security personnel were already vigilant about the possibility of an attack due to which the terrorists could not enter the base and managed to reach only the perimeter on the outside.
Security agencies in Punjab have been on high alert ever since terrorists attacked Gurdaspur in Punjab
. It became tighter after an SP of the Punjab police was abducted by a group of armed men in army uniform on Thursday night. The attackers thrashed the SP before dumping him from vehicle. Police said that after the incident, the joint operation was launched in the border areas of Pathankot and Gurdaspur district.
Meanwhile, authorities said that the helicopters and other equipment at the Air Force base are safe. The technical area of the air force station is safe, police said, adding that entire area had been cordoned off.
This attack comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unscheduled visit to Pakistan. It raises serious questions on the possibility of peace between the two countries. Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that India wants good relations with its neighbours, but will not tolerate any terror attack and will give a “befitting response”.
“Pakistan is our neighbouring country. We want good relations with not just Pakistan but with all our neighbours. We also want peace, but if there is any terror attack on India, we will give a befitting reply.”
In past too such incidents have derailed the peace process between the two neighbours.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bold step in meeting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday unannounced was praised in the media. But now he is facing criticism from the Opposition, which had also targeted him for his visit to Pakistan.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said that the terror attack happening after a week of PM meeting with Nawaz Sharif raises serious questions. In an interview in 2014, just before the elections, Modi had stated that it is not possible to have discussions amidst bomb blasts and gunshots.
“Do you think it is possible to have a discussion amidst the deafening noise of bomb blasts and gunshots? So to have a reasonable discussion, first the blasts and gunshots have to stop.”
There is, however, a page from the past that can provide an inspiration.
When Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus was started in 2005, an attack took place on Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar, where passengers scheduled to travel by the bus service.
The attack left 13 people injured and destroyed the TRC building. The bus, considered a big step in India-Pakistan peace process at that time
, was scheduled to be flagged off by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh didn’t change his mind despite the deadly attack and confirmed that he will flag off the bus service.
The starting of bus service was seen a sign failure for those elements who don’t want reunite divided families. Pakistan’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said that the dialogue process is challenging as it involves difficult decisions and important issues. It will be interesting to see in coming days how both countries deals with the peace process in the backdrop of the latest terror attack.