GPS devices found on three militants killed during a terror siege at a Punjab police station suggest they came from Pakistan across Ravi river, security officials said Tuesday, a finding that could ratchet up India-Pakistan diplomatic tensions amid renewed peace efforts.
Giving details of the probe, Punjab police chief Sumedh Singh Saini said the terrorists had taken the route from Dhussi Bandh (Ravi river) right along the International Border to the railway track where they planted bombs and then came to Dina Nagar. The bombs were detected on time and defused.
“As per their GPS system, they first planted bombs on railway track before snatching a car from a civilian and then gained entry into the police station of Dina Nagar,” he said.
“The terrorists used the route of canals along the border belt and reached Bamiyal town. While observing that security in the Jammu region, which is very close, was tight, the terrorists moved towards Dinanagar town,” a police official told IANS.
Forensic examination of the gadgets indicated the terrorists slipped into India from Pakistan nearly a week before the attack in Gurdaspur district and were in the Pathankot-Gurdaspur region of Punjab for five days, perhaps surveying the area before launching their attack.
Sources said the GPS sets contained recordings of coordinates from 10.51pm on July 21, when the terrorists were in the Narot-Jaimal sector of the International Border with Pakistan. The devices were switched off after they entered the country, but details of coordinates are available for Monday morning, when the heavily-armed terrorists stormed the police station in Dinanagar town, killing seven people.
PTI reported that the the tracking point of one of the two GPS systems with the terrorists showed Talwandi point, Parmanand village and Dina Nagar. The other GPS system had Gurudaspur Civil Lines marked, implying that the area was also on their target list.
Experts say the attack in which the area’s superintendent of police, three home guards and three civilians lost their lives bore the hallmarks of a Lashkar-e-Taiba operation.
“Deeper examination of the GPS sets is underway,” a security source told Hindustan Times. “An initial appraisal by the security forces (suggests) that the ultras were pushed into India from Pakistan in the Narot-Jaimal sector (of Punjab) on the night of July 21-22.”
A 14-second video footage surfaced on Tuesday, purportedly showing the three men in military fatigues, carrying big backpacks and assault rifles while walking down the road at 4:55 am on the day of the attack. The images were captured by a CCTV camera at a shop in Dinanagar area, just before the terrorists entered this Punjab town bordering Pakistan, said the senior superintendent of police in Gurdaspur, GS Toor.
The attack came days after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan met in Russia and agreed that top security officers from the two countries would meet to discuss counter-terrorism.
The bodies of the terrorists were brought out of the two-storey police station where they remained holed up for the most part of Monday’s gun-battle, minutes after Punjab police carried out controlled blasts of a few live shells found inside the old building.
Three AK-47 rifles, 17 magazines, 55 cartridges, one rocket launcher, three hand grenades, bullet proof jackets, night vision device and heap of unused bullets were recovered from the site of the encounter, DGP Saini said.
Forensic experts from Chandigarh scoured the police station for clues about the identity of the terrorists. The car that the gunmen hijacked and drove to the police station was also examined.
Watch: Gurdaspur terror attack: CCTV video captures three terrorists
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)