India, Pakistan spar over Gurdaspur attack

Published July 31, 2015
India blames that the attack was carried out by cross-border terrorists. Pakistan calls the claim a threat to peace.—AFP/File
India blames that the attack was carried out by cross-border terrorists. Pakistan calls the claim a threat to peace.—AFP/File

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan were locked in a furious verbal duel on Thursday over Monday’s Gurdaspur attack, which Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament, was carried out by cross-border terrorists who forded the swollen Ravi River where it enters Pakistan’s Punjab. Pakistan called the Indian claim a threat to peace and security in the region.

“Any effort by the enemies of our nation to undermine India’s territorial integrity and security or imperil the safety and security of our citizens will meet an effective and forceful response from our security forces,” Mr Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

Persistent jeering from Congress deputies mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refrain of having a 56-inch chest, muffled his tough words. Monday’s incident claimed 10 lives, including the Gurdaspur police chief.

Also read-Editorial: Gurdaspur attack

“Preliminary analyses of GPS data indicates that the terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan through the area near Tash in Gurdaspur district, where the Ravi river enters Pakistan,” the home minister said.

Mr Singh also assured the house that “the government will do everything possible to prevent cross-border terrorism aimed against India”.

Pakistan saw in the statement ominous portends. “The Government of Pakistan categorically rejects the baseless allegations made by Mr Rajnath Singh…Pakistan regrets the unsubstantiated and unwarranted assertion that those involved in the Gurdaspur incident of 27 July, had entered India from Pakistan. Pakistan believes that home minister’s provocative comments are a threat to peace and security of the region,” a foreign ministry press statement said.

“We have noted with concern a continuing tendency of India to cast blame on Pakistan for any terrorist incident in India. In the Gurdaspur incident, blames were apportioned to Pakistan in the Indian media, even when the encounter with terrorists was still going on.”

The statement from the foreign ministry spokesperson’s office recalled that immediately after the Gurdaspur incident, the Government of Pakistan had issued a statement expressing condemnation “in the strongest terms” of the attack.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorism is a common enemy of both Pakistan and India. To tackle terrorism, a cooperative approach is required. Blame game and finger-pointing would be unhelpful.”

Pakistan urged India to refrain from “casting baseless allegations” and work with Pakistan to eliminate terrorism from the region and create an environment of peace and amity in South Asia.

“If Government of India has any concrete evidence in this case, same may be shared with Government of Pakistan.”

Mr Singh said that the same terrorists were suspected to have planted five IEDs on the railway track near Talwandi village between Dinanagar and Jhakoladi which were subsequently defused by the bomb disposal squad. A night vision device was also recovered from the spot.

“The security forces in the border are alert but the difficult terrain coupled with recent heavy rains, resulting in excess flow in the rivers and canals along the border could have been a factor, in this particular group sneaking into Punjab,” he said.

He said that during the last one month, there were five attempts at cross-border infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir sector, out of which four were interdicted and eight terrorists neutralised.

In the remaining one instance, the terrorists went back after effective retaliation by the Indian forces.

While he spoke, the Congress members, carrying placards, were shouting slogans in the Well against the prime minister and his government over the terror attack.

The slogans included: “56 inch ki chhati hai hai (down with the 56-inch chest) and Narendra Modi hai hai (down with Narendra Modi) and NDA government hai hai (down with the NDA government).”

In his statement, the home minister narrated the sequence of events of July 27 when three heavily-armed terrorists dressed in army uniforms struck in Gurdaspur at around 5.30am and stormed the police station, leading to a 12-hour gun-battle.

The Punjab police have recovered a number of “incriminating material” including three AK rifles, 19 magazines and two GPS devices from the dead terrorists, which are being analysed for further necessary action, he said.

Earlier in the day, soon after the Rajya Sabha assembled, it condemned the Gurdaspur terrorist attack.

Chairman Hamid Ansari referred to the Gurdaspur terror strike and said “this dastardly attack is deplorable“.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2015

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