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Operation Dhangu: Was It Really A Success?

Background of the Incident

An attack took place in Pathankot, a city in Punjab, which also happens to a part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. It began on the second of January, when six terrorists entered the air force base, dressed heavily in army uniforms. They then began to fire indiscriminately, which also included an IED explosion.


The operation lasted for four days, till the fifth of January. While all the six terrorists were killed, it also resulted in the death of seven military personnel. New Delhi was put on high alert, and a Turkish Airlines flight from Mumbai to Istanbul was aborted following a bomb scare. While India has accused the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistani terrorist organization of plotting the attack, the United Jihad Council has claimed responsibility, as a retaliation to the execution of Afzal Guru in 2013.

Mysteries Surrounding the Attack:

While the Army has declared the operation, named ‘Operation Dhangu’ a success, it is far from that. There are various reasons. First, there are several contradicting stories by the Superintendent of Punjab Police, Salwinder Singh, who was abducted by four terrorists on New Year’s Eve. While the SP said that he was let off by the terrorists because of his age and religion, another statement says that the SP and his cook, who was also in the car with him, had fled, after the terrorists realized that the man whom they had abducted was the Superintendent of the Punjab Police. Second question is that, when intelligence agencies had been warned of a possible attack during New Year, why weren’t appropriate security measures taken. Third, there was a lot of chaos, as the National Security Guards had been sent from Delhi to tackle the situation, which created confusion, as the Army was already present, and also led to the prolonging of the operation for four days. And finally, the different statements coming from the Army, regarding the number of terrorists killed.

Lapses by the Army:

The Army had made several mistakes during Operation Dhangu, such as giving contradicting statements to the media about the number of terrorists gunned down and those who were still holed up in the air force base. Also it’s response to the warning of a possible attack was very lax, as security was not tightened in and around Pathankot. Therefore, while they proclaim that they successfully foiled the terrorists’ plans, many military analysts have declared it a failure.

26/11: No Lessons Learnt?

The Pathankot attack draws comparisons to the attacks in Mumbai in the year 2008. There too, intelligence agencies had been warned of a possible attack, however, appropriate measures weren’t taken to strengthen security. And like Pathankot, there was a lot of chaos in Mumbai as well, because the NSG commnados and the local police were both involved. Thus, it can be said that even though it has been seven years since Mumbai attacks took place, not much has improved. And as long as this continues, many more of our soldiers will be lost, in events that could have been avoided.

[Image Attribute: Jaskirat Singh Bawa]

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