Terror freezes Punjab town; Locals lock self at home

RSTV Bureau
Gurdaspur: An army jawan takes position during an encounter with the militants who attacked a police station at Dinanagar.  Photo - PTI

Gurdaspur: An army jawan takes position during an encounter with the militants who attacked a police station at Dinanagar. Photo – PTI

Fear gripped over Dina Nagar town in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, as the residents woke up to the sound of heavy gunfire early on Monday morning. It was just half past five in the morning when the suspected terrorists stormed their way into the local police stations after spraying bullets on the moving bus at Amritsar-Pathankot highway. And very soon a heavy gunfire exchange ensued between the security forces and the terrorists holed up inside the police station.

The ‘news’ of the fidayeen attack spread fast and thick forcing the people living near the police station in Dina Nagar to remain indoors. Dina Nagar is the third largest town in Gurdaspur district.

One of the residents of Dina Nagar, Kamaljeet Singh Matharu confirmed that the heavily armed assailants were in army uniform. Mr. Matharu received a gunshot injury as the terrorists carjacked his Maruti 800 car after firing at him. He has since been admitted in a local hospital for treatment.

Giving a detailed account of carjacking incident, one resident Naval, who lives in an area close to the roadside eatery where one person was killed by the terrorists claimed, “I saw them driving away in the car. They went towards the police station. There were a very few people since it was early in the morning. They fired about three rounds initially. They were firing as they drove off. The person who died worked at the eatery”.

While many residents, at home preparing for the day, were alerted about the shocking incident unfolding in their neighbourhood. Jatinder Kumar, an employee of Punjab Health Department, came to know about the incident at about 6:15 AM through a friend’s phone call.

“There is fear among the people after they came to know about the attack. We can hear the sound of firing going on at the police station between the security personnel and the attackers,” said Kumar, whose house is just 500 metres away from the Dina Nagar police station.

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Gurdaspur: Army and police personnel taking stock during an encounter with militants. Photo – PTI

Schools, colleges and other institutions in the town have been ordered to shut down for a day.

“Our son, who is a student of Class VIII, has also not gone to school as the district administration announced closure of educational institutions for the day,” said another resident, who works in Punjab’s Internal Audit Department.

The residents also gave details of the enhanced security check around the district that is not far from the borders of Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, security forces in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana have gone on high alert in the wake of the attack, just three weeks ahead of the Independence Day.

A senior police official said that in view of the attack, “maximum alert” has been sounded across Punjab and security has been beefed up along its border with neighbouring J&K.

Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the Indo-Pak border, has also been put on high alert after the incident, the police officer said.

(With inputs from the PTI)