Pathankot, Jan 2: There are two ways of looking at the intelligence bureau alerts that were issued ahead of the Pathankot attack that took place today.
There was intelligence regarding the attack and a red alert in the state of Punjab too had been issued. On one hand one could say that the attack took place despite the intelligence and on the other it could be said that the attack would have been more severe if there was no information.
It is clear that the terrorists entered India with a specific intention of targeting the air force station. The manner in which the attack was coordinated and the modus operandi involved in entering into the attack site are all indications that it was pre-planned.
The advance information that the intelligence bureau had may have helped thwart an attack, which could have been bigger if the security agencies were caught off guard.
The build up:
Between 12.45 Am and 1.30 AM, the IB intercepted four calls that were made by the terrorists to handlers in Pakistan. The tracking began soon after an incident that occurred yesterday in which the Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police was abducted and released. His vehicle was however stolen by the terrorists.
Following this alert and interception a red alert had been sounded in Punjab and also Jammu and Kashmir. The army placed its men near the Pathankot airforce station and they were helped by the National Security Guards who too were roped in to guard the area.
All this indicates a sense of preparedness and had this build up not been there, the terrorists could have an advantage and destroyed a large part of the air base.
Another advantage of having advance information was that the security forces were able to contain the terrorists early. The terrorists were looking to enter into the technical area of the airforce station. However they were not able to enter this area and were largely restricted to a non-operational zone of the station. Had they entered the technical area, the damage would have been larger.
While there were advantages of having specific intelligence alerts there are also other areas which raise concerns. If there was heavy security deployed around the airforce station, how did the terrorists manage to enter into the area in the first place.
Sources say that they had used an official car and this could be the one they had stolen from the Superintendent of Police yesterday. Moreover they were all dressed in army fatigues and some security personnel could have not suspected them to be terrorists. The details that have come in from Pathankot are still preliminary in nature. Investigations are being conducted and in a few days time a clearer picture is likely to emerge.