On Wednesday 14th October, four people were killed by heavily armed militants in an attack on a military station in the northern Indian state of Punjab. The Indian Army’s Southwest Command said that troops and police were continuing their search on Thursday through the sprawling facility in Punjab in a bid to hunt down the attackers. The militants are thought to have taken advantage of weak security around the base, which is located in a rural area, and entered the grounds by scaling the boundary wall before heading for residential quarters for soldiers and their families within the compound. The attackers were armed with automatic weapons and grenades and dressed in military fatigues. Security personnel first responded to the shooting by launching a counter-offensive operation with the help of the Punjab police, which then evolved into a hostage rescue operation. By early evening, the operation to clear the military base was declared over by the authorities.
There has been speculation that this could be another attack of militants from Pakistan, exploiting the sparseness of the border area around the compound, however, no group has yet claimed responsibility for this attack. This attack comes after deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan have been a key concern for some time, especially following a ceasefire violation in August. Nevertheless, since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the end of last month in New York, both sides had appeared in agreement for the necessity of constructive dialogue.
The Indian government now plans to, from next week, welcome Pakistan to India to try and to move the start of the peace talks between the countries forward, however, this recent attack will doubtless have an impact on discussions around the table. There are, however, rumors that militant groups in Pakistan were given orders to disrupt the peace talks.
The latest shooting is a worrying sign for the country’s security and there is concern over the lack of preparedness of the military, which is still under-resourced despite the government’s pledges to modernize it. The recent attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul raises concerns over India’s position and India’s preparedness for attacks from militants. This latest incident demonstrates the continued vulnerability of India against asymmetric warfare and the need for greater, more effective security measures.