Eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and 22 injured when a group of militants attacked a bus carrying 40 of them on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in the Pampore area on Saturday. K. Durga Prasad, Director-General, Central Reserve Police Force, speaks to Vijaita Singh on the attack:
Was there a lapse in the standard operating procedure by the CRPF in Pampore?
Nothing that I can think of at the moment. With two AK-47s, all you need is 30 seconds to do the damage. The damage was caused in not more than 30 seconds. All the CRPF boys were in the bus, concentrated in a small place. The boys not only retaliated but killed both of them [the terrorists].
Did the CRPF personnel on the bus retaliate or did a road-opening party, which was following, carried out the counter-attack?
It happened from both the parties.
Was there any intelligence input that the militants were planning to attack the bus?
We have been getting information about such things. Terrorist groups that have come from outside have been tasked with attacking the security forces. But the specifics were not there. There were intercepts about an attack on security forces. They did not mention Army, BSF or CRPF. Security waalon par hamla karna hai [we have to attack security forces] — these were the kinds of intercept available. We have been getting these intercepts for quite some time now.
Since when have you been receiving such intercepts?
Not months, but in the past few days we intercepted these calls.
Did the intercepts mention the name of any specific terrorist group?
That I would like to keep to myself. But yes, we had intercepts that do indicate that they were planning attacks on security forces.
If a road-opening party was there, why was the car which dropped the two terrorists not stopped anywhere?
These people were not mounted on any car, they came like usual passengers. There were four in the car, two suddenly got down in front of the bus and started firing.
The moment the first fire was heard, the road-opening party rushed to the scene and immediately retaliated.
Is the road-opening party not supposed to check vehicles?
While the convoy is moving up and down, a vehicle is stopped only if there is something suspicious. If we stop every vehicle, then there will be a naka (check) point every half a kilometre. There would be huge traffic jams then.
What are the steps being taken to prevent the recurrence of such attacks?
We will revise the sitting pattern in buses. We will have to ensure that if the vehicle is fired upon, the casualty is minimised. Which position should the jawans take when the bus is attacked? All this will be looked into.
Are you also considering use of bulletproof vehicles for the movement of jawans?
For bullet-proofing vehicles, we will have to analyse the experience of the Army. Till what height bullet-proofing can be done will have to be looked into. We cannot cover the entire vehicle; else there will be no ventilation.
It will be like moving in a container.
What is the condition of the injured jawans?
Out of 22 personnel injured, two were on ventilator till Sunday morning. Three others were operated upon.
Do you think the movement details of the convoy were leaked?
If somebody had noticed them coming out from the firing range, all anyone requires is a cellphone call. Cell coverage is available on the entire stretch.
Any link to the EDI building attack in Pampore in February?
No. This happened a few kilometres away from that.
What about the two men who escaped in the car after dropping the militants?
It appears that it was the local militants who extended support to them. They would not come back for fidayeen (suicide attackers) militants.
They were carrying two AK-47 rifles, 11 magazines and 174 rounds of ammunition.
They had unmarked grenades on them. Neither Indian- nor Chinese-made. This leaves the scope for speculation. The grenades were not manufactured in any ordnance factory in India.
Both China and India are ruled out, so we will have to draw our own conclusions. AKs are available everywhere. There is no mark of country on it.
What about the two militants who were killed?
Their bodies were shaved, which shows they had come for their last act, the ultimate sacrifice. That’s why we call this a fidayeen attack.
They were carrying the ammunition on their belt and pouches. They were killed within three or four minutes.
They were wearing black trousers and black full arm shirt.