Rajat Sharma

Mohali attack: Punjab CM must closely coordinate with Centre to foil Pak plot

akb fullPunjab Police have recovered a Russian-made rocket launcher allegedly used for firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the state police intelligence wing HQ in Mohali on Monday night. Meanwhile, CCTV footage has been obtained by police showing two attackers sitting inside a vehicle before the RPG was launched.

A female labourer working in the fields found the rocket launcher, sources said. It was found from a plot of land on Old Sohna road, less than one km from the blast site. The identities of attackers are still shrouded in mystery. Police officials suspect the hand of Pakistan-based gangster-turned-terrorist Harvinder Singh Rinda as the possible mastermind behind this attack. A police official said, Rinda has been using his network of smugglers dealing in narcotics and weapons. These smugglers use drones from across the border to ferry narcotics and weapons. Till now, nearly 10 kg of RDX explosives have been seized from different locations in Punjab.

Punjab Police chief V. K. Bhawra said, TNT (trinitrotoluene) explosive was used in the grenade attack. “We have got some strong clues and we will crack this case soon”, he said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, police have detained two persons so far. Among them is one Nishant Singh, a resident of Patti tehsil of Taran Taran district, presently living in Amritsar after his marriage, has been taken into custody by Faridkot police.

Describing the sequence of attack, a police official said, the grenade was fired from the road, and it hit the third floor of the office building, damaging windowpanes, glass doors, furniture and computers. He said, the attackers travelled in a white-coloured car, the grenade was fired from a rocket launcher from across the road but it did not explode. The grenade hit the window glass panes and some furniture and computers, but did not cause big damage. Soon after, the attackers fled in the car towards Airport Road, reached Ambala in Haryana after crossing Dappar toll plaza. Punjab and Haryana Police are now closely coordinating in tracking the attackers. One person has already been detained in Ambala.

The Mohali grenade firing could be the indication of a bigger terror attack in future. Though not a single person was injured, but the use of a rocket launched raises serious concerns. Rocket-propelled-grenades are used by Pakistan army. The Taliban in Afghanistan had supplied RPGs to the Pakistan army. In Jammu and Kashmir, there were some instances where terrorists used RPGs, but this is the first time that RPG has been used by anti-national forces in Punjab.

Till now, Punjab Police has assembled footage from more than 50 CCTV cameras. More than 3,000 cellphone data from that locality have been collected and sleuths are poring through them to link the missing pieces in the puzzle.

Normally, rocket launchers are used to fire grenades up to a distance of 300 to 800 metres, but in Mohali, it was used to fire from a distance of 80 metres. Punjab Police is taking help from Military Intelligence and National Investigation Agency to zero in on the attackers. NIA has not officially started its probe.

Punjab has witnessed seven terror attacks since August last year. In December last year, a dismissed Punjab Police constable Gagandeep Singh was killed and six others were injured when he was trying to assemble a bomb inside the washroom of Ludhiana district sessions court.

In November last year, a grenade blast was carried out near an army camp in Pathankot and a similar grenade attack took place the same month at a CIA police station in SBS Nagar. On March 9 this year, there was a grenade attack on a police post in Rupnagar, just ahead of state assembly elections.

In September last year, there was a motorbike blast in Jalalabad, Fazilka, while a tiffin bomb was found in Ferozepur. On April 23, a tiffin bomb containing 1.5 kg RDX explosive was found near Burail jail near Chandigarh. On May 5, four Khalistani terrorists were arrested by Haryana Police from Karnal. They were intercepted while carrying four kg RDX explosive, and were on their way to Telangana. Three improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a pistol, 31 cartridges, six cell phones and Rs 1,30,000 cash were seized from them. These terrorists disclosed that they got these weapons in Ferozepur from across the border with the help of drones, sent by Harvinder Singh Rinda, based in Pakistan. Rinda had sent this consignment using an app, which showed its location as Adilabad. On Sunday (May 8), 3.5 kg RDX was found hidden inside a dilapidated building in Taran Taran.

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday said that enemies of the nation are conspiring to spread violence and spoil brotherhood. He promised to take stern action against those found guilty. If the NIA takes over the probe into Mohali attack case, it could be a big embarrassment for the AAP government in Punjab. Punjab Police officials say that sleeper cells of Khalistani outfits have now become active and this could pose a big challenge to the police force. There are only 12 countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, where rocket launchers are used to fire grenades.

The Punjab Police intelligence wing headquarter is located in Sector 77 of Mohali, which is still being developed. There are open areas around the building, and few CCTV cameras have been installed. The attackers took advantage of this and fled. The attackers were in a Swift Dzire car and they fled towards Ambala after the attack.

Terror-related incidents point towards anti-national forces ganging up to cause turmoil in Punjab again. There are reports of the ‘K2 desk’ becoming active in Pakistan’s ISI headquarters. Reports say, the K2 desk has set up a ‘Lashkar-e-Khalsa’, an amalgam of Khalistani and Kashmiri terrorists. Afghan militants have also been inducted into this outfit, as they have experience in firing RPGs. This outfit plans to recruit youths through social media. While going through Facebook data, Indian intelligence sleuths stumbled upon a fake ID named ‘Amar Khalistani’ that was running pages like ‘Azad Kashmir and Khalistan’ to attract disgruntled youths.

Opposition parties like Congress and BJP have alleged that the AAP government led by Bhagwant Mann is unable to counter the terror challenge from across the border. Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill appealed to Home Minister Amit Shah to get the Mohali attack probed by NIA. BJP leader manjinder Singh Sirsa said, chief minister Bhagwant Mann should concentrate more on improving law and order. On national security issue, he said, we would like to give full support to the chief minister.

There is not an iota of doubt that the enemies from across the border are trying to create disturbance in Punjab. Pakistan has failed in fomenting violence in Kashmir Valley, and now it has opened up a new front in Punjab. Drones are being used to smuggle weapons and narcotics.

On Monday night, 10 kg heroin that was being smuggled by drone from Pakistan was shot down by BSF on the international border. In recent weeks, 70 pistols, a sub-machinegun, a light automatic FAL rifle, an AKM rifle, one 7.5 Saiga rifle, a PGM MK rifle, and 98 magazines were airdropped from Pakistan in Punjab. All these weapons were confiscated by Indian security forces.

Drones sent from Pakistan can normally carry a load from 10 to 20 kg. The rocket launcher and grenade used in Mohali weighs nearly 7 kg, and from all accounts, it appears that it has been sent from Pakistan. Pakistan wants to create turmoil in Punjab by using self-styled Khalistani terrorists.

We should view the entire issue seriously. It could be that Pakistani handlers sitting across the border are nurturing a false hope that the present state government in Punjab lacks administrative experience, and the state now has a chief minister, who never dealt with terror-related cases. Pakistan is trying to encash this opportunity.

The need of the hour is: Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann must coordinate closely with the central agencies, and foil the diabolical plan being prepared in Pakistan. This issue concerns the security of the people of Punjab. There must be peace in Punjab, at any cost.

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