Three heavily-armed terrorists attacked a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district July27, killingfivepoliceper- sonnel and three civilians,
before being killed by the security forces.
Punjab’s former director general of police
K P S Gill, the man credited with ending
terrorism in the state in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, spoke to A Ganesh
Nadar/India Abroad about the prevailing
situation in Punjab.
A terrorist attack occurred in Punjab
after a long, long time. What do you have to
say about the situation?
I think the Punjab police are responding
What action do you think should be taken
to nip terrorism in the bud?
A lot of action is required. Border areas
should be policed properly. The police at
the international border (with Pakistan)
should be well-equipped.
Local people should be involved so that
those who cross the border cannot roam
around freely. There should be definitive
schemes for this. The Border Security Force
can only do so much. Local citizens should
You think this is a one off incident, or will
If we don’t
wake up, it will
Do you think
are causing the
There are certain people who
go on hunger
that support them. This causes public turmoil in Punjab.
What is the solution to terrorism?
The solution is that there should be a
national policy on terrorism. What is
shocking is that all our political parties
speak in different tones in reference to terrorism.
We need uniformity in dealing with terrorism and terrorists.
With a Bharatiya Janata Party-Akali Dal
government in Punjab, do you think it
infuses religion into politics?
Religion has always been there in politics
in India. It has never been out.
Punjab is said to have a serious problems
with drugs. How would you control it?
It is an all-India problem. It is a major
problem. There has to be a social solution.
It is not only a law and order problem.
You think there will be better co-ordina-
tion in fighting terrorism as the same par-
ties are ruling at the Centre and in
When terrorism was there in Punjab and
I was the DGP, there was President’s rule in
the state. P Chidambaram came there as
the Centre’s representative.
He gave a long lecture to the police officers. After he left I told my officers to forget
everything he had said and to listen only to
me. The governor will have one idea, the
ministers will have other ideas.
Anti-terrorism has to be handled by one
person. He can consult any number of people. The party in power does not matter.
of surprise, the ratio of fatalities was not
particularly adverse, with three civilians
and three police personnel killed, to three
If there is a visible negative to this incident, it has been in the conduct and statement of political leaders, who have been
quick to harness an ongoing crisis to partisan political ends.
Some commentators have been quick to
suggest that the Dinanagar incident underscores Punjab’s enduring vulnerabilities to
terrorism. This, however, is far from the
case. While a one-off attack, mounted from
across the border, remains a permanent
possibility, the revival of any sustainable
terrorist movement in the state is unlikely.
The Khalistani leadership in Pakistan
and in various Western countries have consistently been trying to make mischief over
the past more than two decades since the
comprehensive defeat of terrorism in
Punjab in 1993, but they have found no
traction among the people of Punjab.
Crucially, moreover, the Punjab police,
despite years of neglect and tremendous
mis-governance in the state, has retained
sufficient capabilities, both of intelligence
and response, to thwart any incipient
efforts to engineer a revival of terror in
The Dinanagar incident, nevertheless,
comes as a warning against complacence,
not only in Punjab, but across the country.
India’s enemies have been pushed back, but
they have not altered their objectives or
their intentions and continue to look for
every opportunity to inflict harm.
Crucially, moreover, new dangers, most
significantly in the shape of a global
Islamist jihad, with Islamic State as its
most monstrous manifestation, are emerging. Despite these obvious realities, successive governments in Delhi, and in the
states, continue to fail in their basic duties
to define and implement a coherent and
consistent counter-terrorism strategy and
continue to pursue the absurd mirage of
‘peace through negotiations’ with Pakistan
without, in any measure, altering the equation of power between the two bitter historical adversaries.
This charade of alternately talking and
not talking to Pakistan must now be
brought to an end. India’s policy makers
need to pull their heads out of the sand and
recognize the reality that Pakistan has sup-
ported and sponsored terrorism on Indian
soil for more than three decades; a national
counter-terrorism strategy must be evolved
in the fullest consciousness of this fact, and
of the continued hostility of the Pakistani
nation-State to the very idea of India.
In must be accepted, further, that existing
risks are compounded by the emergence of
global jihad and a range of powerful non
State actors whose objectives and intentions are not expressly distinguishable from
those of the deep State in Pakistan.
We may continue to hope for the best, to
dream of a ‘strong, stable, democratic and
secular Pakistan’ as our ‘friendly neighbour,’
but it is necessary not to confuse dreams
Ajai Sahni is Executive Director, Institute
for Conflict Management, New Delhi.
End this charade of talking to Pakistan
K P S GILL:
ÂIf we donÊt wake up, such attacks will continue in PunjabÊ
‘Border areas should be policed properly. The police at the international border
with Pakistan should be well-equipped.’
K P S Gill, Punjab’s former director general of police.
Policemen fire from their positions next to a police station, Dinanagar, Gurdaspur district. M U n
A36 INDIA SPECIAL/TERROR IN PUNJAB India Abroad August 7, 2015