Friday, December 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Al-Qaida men sneak into Bikaner?
5 BSF officials suspended
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Sriganganagar, December 6
Have two top operatives of the Al - Qaida, the terrorist outfit targeted by the USA in the ongoing war against terror, crossed over into India for activating their cells, recruit members and carry out sabotage activities ?

The answer may be in the affirmative going by the red faces in the higher echelons of the security agencies operating on the border following a successful infiltration in the Bikaner Sector. The lid on the episode was blown when five officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) were suspended today and placed under detention for their alleged negligence while on duty. The fencing in this sector lit at night.

Those suspended include the Mansarovar Post Commander, Sub-Inspector Ummed Singh, a havildar and three guards of a patrolling party. The post falls in the Khajuwala area of the neighbouring Bikaner district and is currently being manned by personnel of the 30 Battalion of the BSF.

A patrolling party had reported the footprints of two persons on the mud track along the barbed wire fence on the morning of November 27. This sent alarm bells ringing and officials went into an overdrive to arrest the infiltrators. The footprints were reportedly traced to Chak 31 KYED village and the main road beyond it. The villagers are said to have expressed their ignorance about any suspicious movement in the vicinity of the village that night or early that morning, sources said.

The officials are at present being held incommunicado and being interrogated by senior BSF and intelligence officers as to how the infiltration took place right under their noses especially when a big Pakistani post, Chinarwali, is located just a kilometre away and there have been reports of unusual activity.

Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials were at their wits, end to ascertain the identity of the two infiltrators when patrolling and vigilance of all movement on this side of the border were at an all-time high following an exercise of the Pakistani army currently underway on the other side.

Not ruling out the possibility of infiltration by top members of the terrorist outfit and help in their mission by their sympathisers this side, the sources said a massive search operation was underway and the villagers had been asked to report the movement of any strangers. However, it may prove to be a delayed reaction, since the infiltrators could be anywhere in the country by now, the sources opined.

Detailing the sequence of events, the sources said the infiltration was so well-planned that it was likely that some important functionary had crossed over. Such infiltration would have taken at least 10 - 15 minutes and the evidence pointed it to be the handiwork of professionals. But for the footprints nobody could have known for days that any infiltration had taken place.

The infiltrating duo took their time to cut the outer barbed wire fence and the tight roll of the cobra wire in between the main fence. They are said to have patched up all the wires in their place before disappearing, the sources revealed.

There have been a few instances of infiltration in these parts earlier and in these incidents. the wires were just cut and left that way. In one instance, a ladder was used to scale the fence while in another instance, the infiltrators dug a tunnel under the fence, the sources added.Back

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