LUDHIANA/NEW DELHI: A damning terror alert sent by Punjab Police ADGP (internal security) has raised several questions on preparedness by the Punjab Police before the bomb blast at district and session court complex in Ludhiana that left one dead and six injured on Thursday.
Did Ludhiana Police or Punjab Police overall lightly take such big alerts and inputs from top intelligence agencies of country on the attempt by ISI and pro-Khalistan elements, leading to IED explosion inside the court complex, endangering several lives?At least 70 judges and 4,000 lawyers sit everyday in the five-storeyed building. There are estimated 1,500 chambers inside the complex.
The alert on December 23, sent by Punjab Police ADGP security, just hours after the attack, to entire state police machinery, raises several questions on his government’s handling. It states “Your attention is also invited to a series of recent inputs shared by this office dated July 9 and December 7 regarding plans of Pakistan ISI and pro-Khalistan terror outfits to carry out multiple terror attacks in the state including use of powerful IEDS to target places of high footfalls and vital installations,”.
The alert has been sent to all commissioners of police including Ludhiana Police commissioner Gurpreet Bhullar, who is a promoted IPS officer from Punjab Police Services (PPS). He had served in key places of Mohali as SSP and has declared assets of more than Rs 140 crore, according to his own annual property declarations.
In fact, just less than a week ago, on December 14, ADGP internal security had written a detailed advisory to all police officers including commissioner of police (CP) in Punjab including Bhullar.
“The ISI of Pakistan has adopted a new strategy of dropping consignments of arms, ammunition and explosive material. 43 drone sightings have taken place (36 times in Amritsar, 7 times in Pathankot, have been observed). The ISI has been using drones to drop consignments of arms, including tiffin bomb, IEDS, grenades and heroin…..It is also worthwhile to mention that as per intelligence inputs, Ferozepur area, based smugglers are very active and are in constant touch with ISI of Pakistan for smuggling consignments of arms. One such module was busted by the Ferozepur police in August 2021 with arrest of Harmesh Singh Kali , son of Joginder alias Gabbar along with his associates. Kali had disclosed that he had received huge consignments of arms, ammunition, explosive material including tiffin bomb and hand grenades by ISI handlers in June and July 2021,” the advisory had warned all top police officers in Punjab.
“Since consignment divulged by Harmesh Kali has not been recovered fully so there is a need for exercising vigil and also to launch special operations by all CPs/SSP…..robust arrangements should be made……strategic deployment of QRTs and BPs, deployment of special 24 x 7 armed hamas, maintenance of drone operator, pilots and dealers. Suitable 2nd line of defence….ensure electronic surveillance of CCTV cameras….cyber patrolling of social media cells…night dominance operations” it said.
It further said, “ active surveillance against known released terroirsts/militants, absconders, radicals, gangasters and facilitators relating to past cases…” it added.
Earlier, a big advisory titled “URGENT” and “Immediate” on November 8, by ADGP security, Punjab Police clearly mentions that Punjab Police under then CM Capt Amarinder Singh regime had sought to review the status of implementation of guidelines of security arrangements for district courts and judicial complexes.
This raises questions if Bhullar’s sudden appointment by Channi allowed any lapses?
“A meeting was held on August 27 under chairmanship of Union home secretary, which was attended by additional chief secretary home and DGP Punjab. In pursuance of above directions, you are requested to interact with the district and sessions judges and to chalk out a fool proof security plan and standard operations procedure, to secure the district and subordinate courts in your jurisdiction…” the November 23 advisory to all commissioners had said.
Now, Bhullar, a 2004-batch PPS officer was DIG, Ludhiana Range when the meeting took place in August. But he had taken charge as Ludhiana Police commissioner when the advisory was sent.
On September 21, within three days of Amarinder relieving charge, Bhullar was suddenly made police commissioner by Channi regime, by passing all senior IPS officers, who are regular recruits, ahead of a state-cadre officer. He replaced a sitting 1997-batch IPS Naunihal Singh.
Amarinder had left the charge as CM on September 18.
“What was the hurry to deploy a DIG-rank officer Gurpreet Bhullar in such a sensitive area? The CM and Punjab Congress must answer this,” said a BJP leader.