Gurdaspur terror: More questions than answers


gurdaspur

The terror attack in Dinanagar in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district on July 27 has ended with less than a dozen casualties, but the incident has raised disturbing questions for India’s security and defence establishment.

In a massive 12 hour operation between security forces and terrorists holed up in a three-storeyed building in Dinanagar, Gurdaspur, the ordeal ended finally, with firing stopping at around 4.15 pm on the evening of July 27. The attack left 10 people dead including an SP, three policemen and three civilians, according to reports.

The big question is whether the terror plot was hatched in Pakistan and executed by infiltrators from across the border. The second question, equally important, is whether the incident had links to Khalistan activists, which were supported from across the border. The two questions are separate as well as partly linked given the history of terrorism in Punjab, being supported by Pakistan in the 1980s. The third question is whether the India-Pakistan engagement, which was sought to be revived after the Ufa meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, is again in danger of being derailed if conclusive evidence establishes that the terror attack was masterminded and executed by Pakistan-based elements.

It’s too early to get conclusive answers to any of these questions. Indian security and intelligence agencies are conducting their probe, and it would be sensible to wait for their findings before jumping to any conclusion. But going by the restraint on the part of New Delhi in not pointing a finger at Pakistan, it seems that it will not play hardball or endanger the recent Ufa initiative which entails segmenting discussions on terror-related issues between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan. The operative part of the Ufa joint statement amounted to continuing engagement in the face of possible terror attacks and provocations by those who have a vested interest in fueling tensions between the two nighbours. It is in this spirit that New Delhi has so far refrained from commenting on the possible involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the latest attack in Punjab. This restraint, however, may not be an option for New Delhi if terror attacks like these are found to have clear cross-border links. In the near term, the government should, however, focus on bolstering its intelligence gathering and counter-terror infrastructure to thwart designs of those who thrive on violence and perverted ideologies that feed them.