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Parrikar to visit Pathankot with heads of Army, IAF

By The Assam Tribune

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS): Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as well as the heads of the Army, Air Force and the NIA will on Tuesday visit the IAF base in Pathankot in Punjab that was attacked by terrorists.

The Minister will be accompanied by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, informed sources said.

National Investigation Agency chief Sharad Kumar will also visit the base as it has been asked to probe the Saturday terror attack that left seven security personnel dead. Five terrorists were also killed.

The visits come even as combing operations are on at the base.

The Defence Ministry and the National Security Guard have confirmed the killing of five terrorists by security forces at the IAF base. The sources said a sixth body that had been found was yet to be identified.

Punjab Police treated own SP's info on terrorists casually: Punjab Police officials took their own senior officer's version on the presence of Pakistani terrorists in the area lightly and slept over the information on the impending terrorist strike on the Pathankot air base, sources said.

Sources in the Punjab Police confirmed to IANS that an internal probe was being conducted to ascertain the role of some senior officers who took Gurdaspur's Superintendent of Police (under transfer) Salwinder Singh's version and information regarding the terrorists "lightly and casually" despite he being a crucial witness to the presence of the terrorists.

Salwinder Singh said that after "untying" himself, he called up his officers and gave the information about his kidnapping and the terrorists. The officers did not react to the crucial information for hours, giving enough time for the terrorists to make their way to the Pathankot Air Force Station (AFS) and carry out the attack that left seven security personnel dead and made the high security defence facility and its vital assets vulnerable.

The Union Home Ministry, top police sources said, has sought a report from the Punjab Director General Police (DGP) on the incident related to the SP's abduction and the delay in taking action on the information regarding the terrorists.

"Not only were some senior officers not ready to hear the SP's version but even tried to fix him in a case. They threatened to involve his name in the murder of Innova taxi driver Ikagar Singh who was killed by the same terrorists," the police source said.

Under fire and suspicion by his own senior officers about the entire incident, Salwinder said on Tuesday: "My information was 100 percent truth. There is no doubt about it. After untying myself, I went to a nearby village Golpur Simbli and told them who I was. I called up my officers and gave the information. My information prevented a major incident. They could have done a big damage to the public if I had not informed."

Salwinder said that he even called up the Gurdaspur Senior Superintendent of Police Gurpreet Singh Toor early (around 3.30 am) on January 1 who told him to inform the police control room instead. According to sources, the control room could be reached by the SP only around 11 am (on January 1).

"I informed senior officers immediately. I don't know why the delay took place," Salwinder said.

Police sources said that one senior Punjab Police officer, who came later to the spot (Akalgarh) where the SP's car was found, even made fun of Salwinder Singh saying that he had gone to meet his woman friend in Kalanaur (in Gurdaspur district). They levelled other charges against him, including the killing of the taxi driver.

"It was only after the SP's mobile phone was put on surveillance that the police officers realised that it was used to make calls to Pakistan. It was then that they really got alerted and sounded others. Crucial time had been lost by that time and the terrorists walked into the air base," the source said.

The SP has been questioned in this case by the NIA, other Central agencies and Punjab Police.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered three FIRs in the matter. These relate to the abduction of the SP and others, the killing of the taxi driver and the attack on the Pathankot AFS.

The police officer was abducted with his friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal by the Pakistani terrorists in his Mahindra XUV multi-utility vehicle. His car was stopped around 11.30 pm on Thursday (December 31). The attack took place early Saturday (January 2).

The Punjab Police and security agencies did nothing till the terrorists entered the Pathankot Air Force Station (AFS).

"Only I know what has happened with me. I have got a new life. The truth has come out. Only I and God know how I returned," Salwinder said.

Salwinder claimed that the terrorists came back in his Mahindra XUV car, which had a blue beacon on top, to find him, where he, along with his cook Madan Gopal, had been dumped near a drain in a forest area on Thursday night.

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