JAMMU: Terrorists are hiding in villages close to the "vulnerable" Pathankot airbase, which can come under fresh attack from them, the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs said today.
It said the government has been informed about it and security of the strategically important facility beefed up. The committee was in Jammu to review the security arrangements along the international border and had earlier gone to Pathankot.
"After going back from Pathankot, we made our suggestions to the government and said that there can be further attack on Pathankot... We were told by the villagers that some terrorists were still hiding in the villages there," Chairman of the committee P Bhattacharya told reporters here today. After the recommendation of the committee, the government has alerted the CRPF, BSF and the army and handed over the security of the airbase to them, he said.
"Do you know that a few days ago, government asked the CRPF, BSF and the Army to guard the air force station because some terrorists are hiding there. How they are hiding there, it is not my business to find out but as we got the information from the villagers, it was very clear to us that they are hiding somewhere. We have informed the Government of India about it," Bhattacharya said.
When asked to comment on the permission granted by the Indian government to the Pakistani investigation team to visit Pathankot airbase to probe the January 2 attack, he said he was not in favour of allowing Pakistani intelligence officers to visit the strategic facility.
"The committee does not support the idea of the Government of India of bringing this intelligence branch of Pakistan here. What for? But for any foreign policy of the Government of India, we are not the proper fora, we cannot take the decision to do this and not to do this", he said.
A five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan had visited India between March 27 and 31 to collect evidence with regard to the attack. Bhattacharya said the policy guidelines have to be framed by the Indian government.
"The committee conducted intensive tours of Indo-Bangla border and India-Pakistan border and now we are heading towards Srinagar. "We went to Pathankot which is the most vulnerable area", he said. The committee said it was satisfied with the measures being taken by the BSF to check infiltration, but advocated providing fully modern equipment to the force.
"As of now, they have explained to us the way they are trying to prevent infiltration. You cannot say what is happening today or tomorrow but up till now, it is all right," Bhattacharya said. Replying to a question regarding Pakistan violating international norms on the IB by constructing concrete bunkers, Bhattacharya said India should take up the matter very seriously with Pakistan.
"As I understand from the government of India's stand, they have taken a strong stand on this issue," he said. He added that the BSF jawans guarding the international border in Jammu and other parts of the country need the most modern amenities and equipment.
Referring to the problems faced by troops at the border, Bhattacharya said the committee will submit its recommendations to the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of foreign affairs and would want them to solve those.
"Right now, we cannot disclose our recommendations to you, but we have made some observations and those problems have to be sorted out by the Ministry of Home or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After we submit these papers to the Government of India, the Home Ministry and the Foreign Ministry should sort out all the problems, maintain peace and ensure complete harmony in this part of the country," he said.
He said that the committee had the opportunity to discuss the problems being faced by the farmers living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu region and would ask the Indian government to redress those at the earliest.