New Delhi, March 17: The news regarding three terrorists being killed in a Western State as reported in some quarters appeared to be suspect right from the word go.
There was never any official confirmation on the so-called operation in which 3 out of the ten terrorists who had entered India from Pakistan had been killed.
To begin with, the information regarding the ten terrorists entering India was given by Pakistan. The alert was taken seriously and the Central Intelligence Bureau along with the Gujarat IB and police did check on the alert.
It was almost concluded that the alert was not actionable (10 terrorists entering India: The real story behind the alert from Pakistan), although the vigil in Gujarat was exceptionally high.
What was this operation about?
The Gujarat police who were checking on this alert received a tip off about some suspicious activity. Shishir Gupta, senior journalist with the Hindustan Times and leading strategic affairs expert writes that nine persons had gone missing from guest houses in Swagat, Bhuj and Saagar on the 5th of March. They had left the guest house without paying rent.
The police who visited the guest house found gas cutters and a cylinder. Upon further investigations the nine persons were traced and it was found that they had planned on robbing an ATM. Currently the Gujarat police is probing to find out if these persons were involved in any ATM thefts.
Was it a selective leak?
The timing of the report about 3 persons being killed is quite interesting in nature. It came a day before the SAARC ministerial being held at Nepal. There is a lot of hype built around the meeting between the external affairs ministers of India and Pakistan.
When Pakistan issued the alert, it was indeed a rare occurrence. Central Intelligence Bureau officials told OneIndia that the alert was viewed in two ways. One it was seen as a good will gesture by Pakistan to reduce the trust deficit in the wake of the Pathankot attack.
Secondly it was also seen as a ploy by Pakistan to wash their hands off in case there was a terror attack in India.
Whether the news of the 3 terrorists being killed was a case of miscommunication or a strategic leak is debatable. While Pakistan issued the alert, India did not want to be seen as doing nothing about it.
Suggesting that action was taken on the basis of the alert was only a way of reciprocating and this would have given a feel good factor when the two foreign ministers met.
One cannot also rule out the possibility of a miscommunication. The operation by the Gujarat police against the ATM thieves did make it look as though a counter terror operation was on. None in the Home Ministry were ready to come on record to state that 3 terrorists had been killed.
All some had to say was that there was an operation that was on and it could have been related to intelligence alert issued by Pakistan.