Air Force stations in Punjab on Pakistan-based Jaish’s radar, forces on alert

Indian Air force (IAF) Stations and other vital installations in Punjab are once again on the radar of Pakistan-based militant groups, according to fresh inputs received by central intelligence agencies that are especially significant in the context of a statement issued by theJaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfit vowing to avenge the killings of 13 militants that took place during three counter-insurgency operations in south Kashmir this week. Four civilians and three army men also died.

According to a document shared with central and state security agencies, three separate inputs have been received in the last three months that indicate Pakistan-based militant outfits have”shown interest in gathering information” about Sri Guru Ravi Dass ji airport in Amritsar and the Raja Sansi Air Force station, also in Amritsar.

A separate and older document , sent to the agencies in January, states that operatives of the Laskhar-e-Taiba and JeM could smuggle “military hardware into India through Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to execute terrorist attacks”. Hindustan Times has seen the documents.

Punjab has seen some major fidayeen attacks in recent years. In 2015, a police station in Gurdaspur was attacked resulting in the killing of four policemen and three civilians. The following year an ever bigger attack was carried out in January at the Pathankot airbase, resulting in a four-day gun battle, and eight people, including one civilian, being killed.

A senior CRPF official said on condition of anonymity that the force is doing its “best to be prepared for any intrusion.”

Director general of Jammu and Kashmir police SP Vaid said he wasn’t aware of intelligence regarding Punjab but confirmed the Jaish statement.

Internal security expert Ajai Sahni believes that unless JeM actually executes or attempts to carry out an attack, the statement should be seen as a “political move”.

“After the encounters in Shopian there have been many statements of condemnation issues by various groups and individuals including the Pakistani Prime Minister. JeM statement too is one among the many,” he said.
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