A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was fired at a police station in Punjab’s border district of Tarn Taran late on Friday, the fifth in a series of attacks on security and law enforcement installations over the last 13 months in the state.
There was no casualty in the attack that took place in Sarhali village on the Bathinda-Amritsar National Highway. The rocket hit the iron gate of the police station and landed near an adjoining building. Though window panes were shattered, the structures were largely undamaged.
Punjab DGP Gaurav Yadav, who arrived at the spot Saturday, said: “This attack has clues similar to the RPG attack on the police intelligence headquarters in Mohali. There is a clear indication that it is a strategy of the neighbouring nation to bleed India by a thousand cuts.”
There was an alert in place on the possibility of such an attack. A letter issued on October 15 by the Tarn Taran SSP had also called for tight security arrangements at police stations, including CCTV cameras and security at the entrances.
According to the letter, there should have been a mounted light machine gun outside the police station and permanent guards at the entry gate. The letter directed construction of proper check posts at the entry gates.
No such arrangements were in place at the Sarhali police station, it is learnt, with the unidentified attackers managing to escape after the incident. No arrest has been made.
The DGP said that the grenade was fired from the highway at 11.22 pm.
The four similar attacks that took place previously were allegedly carried out on the instructions of gangsters and smugglers.
Police have registered an FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against unidentified persons in the latest case. They have also recovered the launcher used in the attack. The DGP said it was military-grade hardware that was possibly smuggled from Pakistan.
“We are working with the Border Security Force and central agencies and will give an appropriate reply to anti national forces. The number of intrusions by drones has increased manifold on the international border especially in Tarn Taran and Amritsar border belt. Police will investigate the links of Pakistan-based handlers and their links in North America and Europe,” said the DGP.
“We are investigating it technically and forensically and collecting evidence from the scene of the crime. By the time the police officials came out of the Sarhali police station after hearing the sound of the explosion, the attackers had fled. There was no one in the police station during the night except the scribe, the duty officer and two constables,” said a police officer.
On March 9, this year, a police post at Kalma Morh in Ropar on the Nurpur Bedi-Nangal road was attacked, damaging its side wall.
In May, an RPG attack took place on the Punjab Police Intelligence headquarters in Mohali, allegedly on the instructions of gangsters Lakhbir Singh Landa and Harvinder Singh Rinda.
In November last year, police at the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) office at Nawanshahr had a narrow escape when a grenade was hurled at its main gate. Police suspect Rinda’s hand in this attack as well.
Two weeks later, another grenade was thrown by motorcycle-borne persons near the Triveni gate of the Army’s cantonment in Pathankot.
In all these incidents, attackers managed to come alarmingly close to the security and law establishments before escaping.
Police have made several arrests in these cases.