Chandigarh: The Indian Army’s role in the counter offensive against terrorists who attacked the Pathankot air base was not a limited one, a top army commander said on Wednesday.
“That is not correct that the army’s role was limited,” Western Command chief Lt. Gen. K.J. Singh said at the Chandimandir command headquarters near here.
“The first contact was by DSC and Garuds. The DSC fought bravely and one of them killed a terrorist and he was shot by another terrorist.
“The second contact was by an army column. Thereafter, they were localised and the NSG neutralised them. The third and final contact was gained by army. This was a joint operation by special forces, Garuds and NSG,” the army commander said.
He said the army’s bomb disposal teams played a large role in the operations.
There has been criticism of the central government in dealing with the air base attack, especially in sending the National Security Guard (NSG) to deal with the terrorists.
Experts have pointed out that trained army units, who were available at the nearby Mamoon Army cantonment, which is the largest cantonment in the country and has over 50,000 trained personnel, should have been used in the counter operations as they have experience in dealing with terrorists and knew the topography of the place quite well.
Justifying the long time, nearly four days, for the operation to eliminate all six terrorists who had entered the Pathankot air base in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday (January 2), Lt. Gen. Singh said a huge area had to be searched and sanitised.
“The operation took time as it was a huge area. Everything has to be sanitised,” he said.
“The total contact period was only 10-11 hours. You should use stop-watch method in this. In the rest of period, the terrorists remained dormant. We were trying to gain contact,” he said.
Citing a situation during the operation, the army commander said two of the terrorists had entered a double storey structure and troops, who were on the first floor of the same building, had to be brought out safely.
He said the probe into the attack by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will trace the entire route and timing of the terrorists.