Oppn parties slam govt over handling of Pathankot strike
The government on Wednesday came in for a scathing attack in the Lok Sabha over the handling of the Pathankot terror strike, with the Opposition dubbing as a “critical mistake” the decision to handover the operation to the NSG. They also questioned as to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover had achieved, noting that the terror strike had happened just a few days after the visit.
Participating in a discussion on the issue, Kalikesh Singhdeo (BJD) singled out the National Security Advisor (NSA) for the attack, saying he had “usurped” the decision-making powers to tackle the incident. Singhdeo wondered as to why the Army was not asked to deal with the terror strike as 50,000 troops were stationed in Pathankot itself at that time, stressing that they were the best to tackle such situations.
Wondering how the Defence and the Home Ministries could wash their hands off, he said the National Security Guards (NSG) is used only to tackle urban hostage situations and not for counter-terrorism and added it was “a critical mistake” to hand over the operation to the NSG. He also pointed out that when the NSG was deployed to deal with the situation, it did not have night-vision devices.
Making a strong pitch for shoring up the intellegence mechanism, he said this was the need of the hour given the fact that the country has remained “one step behind terrorists”.
Expressing concern that Maulana Masood Azhar was still roaming free in Pakistan, he said, adding that his organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was involved in the terror strike. “Are we not bringing enough pressure on Pakistan?” he asked.
On PM’s Lahore stopover, Singhdeo wondered as to what cost the gestures of celebrating a birthday, having a cup of tea and having dinner in the present context of Indo-Pak ties.
Lashing out at the government over its handling of Pathankot terror attack and its overall Pakistan policy, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said while there was no coordination between Defence and Home Ministries, the Cabinet Committee on Security had no meeting on the situation.
It was more a “show off” and less effective, he said. Scindia said the government cannot tread the path of walking alone (ekla chalo) without taking the Opposition into confidence in such critical moments.
“There is difference in what the government says and what it does,” he said. When the government knew about the presence of terrorists 48 hours before they struck, why were they allowed to roam for such a long time, he asked.
“There was Army of 20,000 infantry in Gurudaspur, the air force, the NSG and the BSF. Still there was no single point of contact. This was not the first time that a terrorist attack took place. Few months back a similar attack took place at Dina Nagar in Gurudaspur. Why were lessons not learnt from it? Why was the security not strengthened?” Scindia said.
Attacking PM Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the Pathankot inicident, the chief whip of the Congress said there was no coordination between the ministries. “When the Pathankot attack was taking place, the PM was in Karnataka, attending a Yoga event and tweeting about it. The Home Minister tweeted saying we have killed the terrorists, while the Home Secretary said the operation was still on. And then the tweets had to be deleted. The Defence Minister was in Goa attending addressing a conclave of party workers,” he said.
Bill sent to Punjab for Central forces, not Pathankot operation: Govt
The Rs 6.35-crore bill sent by the Centre to Punjab was not for Pathankot operation but for the deployment of central forces, the government told Lok Sabha on Wednesday, seeking to clarify on the matter against the backdrop of a controversy over it. The government’s response came after Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia attacked the government over the move. “I wish to clarify as this has been raised in the House and also in the media. The bill sent to Punjab was for the deployment of central forces in the state and not for the Pathankot operation,” MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said. Scindia hit back, wondering if it was a mere “coincidence” to send the bill after the Pathankot attack. The Punjab government has already objected to the sending of the bill. The Pathankot airbase was attacked by a group of terrorists on January one and it took three days for the security forces to clear the complex of the attackers.