Govt gives clean chit to SP, says no delay in terror alert
Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh has been given a clean chit by the Punjab government in the report prepared by it for the Union Home Ministry on the terror strike at the Air Force Station in Pathankot.
The state government has also denied that there was any delay on its part in responding to the initial sighting of the terrorists.
Having drawn flak for its delay in responding to the initial terror alert, it now seems that the Punjab government is covering its tracks.
The Union Home Ministry had asked the state government to submit a report on how the terror strike unfolded and the state government's initial response, after the terrorists were first sighted by the police officer.
The role of the SP, who was transferred from Gurdaspur to Jalandhar as Commandant of PAP, following a complaint, only a few days before the terror strike, was questionable.
His theory that he was going to pay obeisance at a dera on December 31 night and that too without a gunman has several loopholes.
Besides, the fact that he was let off by the terrorists along with his cook, Madan Gopal, while their third co-traveller, jeweler Rajesh Verma, was grievously injured before being thrown out has raised many questions over the SP's role. However, the state government's report sent to the Government of India absolves the police officer of any wrongdoing.
The initial timeline of the sequence of events, as revealed earlier this week, had said the police official after being let off had called then Senior Superintendent of Police, Gurdaspur, at 3.23 am on January 1, informing him of the incident.
The district Police Chief, in spite of an alert sent on December 29, saying 16 militants might have entered the border district, refused to believe Salwinder Singh.
This was initially also corroborated by Salwinder Singh himself, who had then claimed that the officer did not take him seriously and asked him to call the police control room. Initially, Salwinder had said nobody responded to his calls in the police control room till 6 am and only a DSP finally came to help him.
By this time, injured Verma too was found and it was only then that the police started acting on their complaint of four "Urdu-speaking" armed terrorists having carjacked them.
However, the report sent to the Home Ministry now says that there was no delay in the police response to the carjacking by terrorists.
It says that the police acted immediately and even the top police brass in Chandigarh had been alerted early in the morning, within minutes of the SP's call to the Gurdaspur SSP.
"By 7 am, ADGP, Law and Order, Hardeep Singh Dhillon had already been dispatched and the police worked on parallel tracts to trace the culprits," says the report.
Interestingly, amid rumours that the police had ordered an internal investigation against four of its officers for delay in responding to the SP's terror alert, Director General of Police Suresh Arora said no internal inquiry against any police officer had been ordered.
"There was no delay on any police officers' part and immediate search operations to trace the terrorists were launched," he said.
Admitting that the terrorists could have local handlers in the area, Arora, however, said the police was still in the process to identify the local handlers, but the search had so far been inconclusive.