Friday, December 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India




National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I N   N E W S

SUICIDE ATTACK ON PARLIAMENT
Five terrorists, 7 cops die in shootout
Four suspects detained; troops patrol Capital
S. Misra, G. S. Kaura & S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The sanctum sanctorum of the world’s largest democracy — Parliament — today came under attack from a six-member ‘Fidayeen’ group with almost the entire top political leadership inside the high security premises.

Storming of Parliament by the premeditated attack, which pierced the security at Gate No. 2 in a white Ambassador car with Parliament and Home Ministry security clearance passes affixed on it, led to a fierce gun battle for more than 20 minutes in which five militants were killed and seven security personnel lost their lives. One militant is still missing.

There was confusion over the missing militant as Home Minister L.K. Advani maintained that “four were killed, fifth one blew himself up” and there was no concrete information about the possible escape of the driver of the vehicle used by the militants, while Joint Commissioner of Police (New Delhi Range) Suresh Roy said efforts are on to trace the militant, who has escaped.

The incident, which shook the entire nation, occurred at 11.40 a.m., soon after the two Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day on the Kargil coffin scam issue.

In the cross-fire, at least 16 persons, including an ANI cameraman and some security personnel, were injured. They are being treated in various government hospitals.

Vice-President Krishan Kant had a providential escape as the intruders banged their RDX-laden vehicle into one of the cars of his cavelcade just outside Gate No.12 of Parliament in a bid to position themselves to storm inside, minutes before he was to leave for his residence.

But for the alertness of security personnel and the supreme sacrifice of one of the security assistants of Parliament House, Jagdish Prasad Yadav, who grabbed an explosive-laden terrorist just outside the main gate, the damage could have been unimaginable. He died along with the suicide bomber, who blew himself up.

As the gunbattle was on within the precincts of Parliament, security personnel ensured the safety of top ministers, MPs, journalists and other Parliament staff. While the ministers and MPs remained closetted in the Central Hall of Parliament or in their respective chambers, mediapersons and others were locked inside various rooms in Parliament even as all entrances to the main building were closed and commandos took up positions.

Of the five terrorists who stormed the complex, one was blown to pieces after a bullet struck the explosive he had tied around him. Four others were shot dead and one is suspected to have fled in the ensuing confusion. Till late at night security forces, including Army and NSG commandoes were busy combing the area.

After the militants broke through the security cordon from the gate located on Rashtrapati Bhavan side, jammers were activated and the entire area and combat pesonnel took combat positions at every possible escape point.

Meanwhile, four persons suspected to be linked with today’s attack on Parliament, have been picked by the Delhi Police and Central Intelligence agencies for questioning.

According to highly placed sources while one was picked up from South West Delhi, three others were detained from East and North Delhi.

Mr Advani, who briefed newspersons after an emergency meeting of the Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, described this as a “major conspiracy” to destabilise the entire democratic system of the country. He said “there are some vital leads which would help in narrowing down on the culprits.”

The Home Minister, who admitted having seen all the five dead militants, said: “They did not seem to be Indian faces...though I cannot vouch for it.”

Mr Advani said the way they moved around the Parliament premises indicated that the militants were in possession of a map of Parliament House.

The meticulous planning of the militants was evident from the fact that they intruded into the Parliament premises during the all-important “question hour” and with more than 25 hand grenades took left turn towards Gate Number 12 from where the Vice-President was to leave for his residence.

The Home Minister said security around all the vital installations across the country have been strengthened and the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations have been asked to step up security to prevent any untoward incident.

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