Repeated terror strikes, especially after the Pathankot attack, have turned the residents of towns and villages in Punjab oversensitive.
Dozens of incidents were reported during the last one year in which people supposedly saw terrorists attired in an Indian Army fatigue and carrying weapons, but nothing was heard of them thereafter. In fact, in many cases, the probe led to ridiculous findings.
For instance, the bag spotted outside a cantonment in Pathankot belonged to a jawan who was posted there. Likewise, an unclaimed bag found on a train in Pathankot in January this year was inadvertently left by a passenger.
This particular bag was treated like a bomb and placed under sand bags. When the bomb disposal squad arrived, it found that the bag only contained clothes!
In another case, the joint-combing operation launched by the Punjab and Himachal Police failed to trace the four suspicious men spotted near Pathankot last month.
The police search led to the discovery of Army uniforms, some of them were even put on fire. Later, Pathankot SSP Rakesh Kaushal revealed that these uniforms were thrown away and destroyed by the Army staff themselves after they got new ones.
In January this year, the Army and police combed fields near a cantonment in Pathankot after two suspects were spotted in the area. Such was the panic that an unmanned aerial vehicle was also pressed into service.
|Air Force Station, Pathankot. (Photo credit: PTI)
The results were embarrassing as the terrorists were not humans but a couple of pigs! People also sighted suspected terrorists outside Mohali, Chandigarh and in Ambala cantonment recently.
While those spotted in Ambala and Mohali remained a mystery, those traced in Chandigarh were found to be the CISF men who were moving in a vehicle registered in Uttar Pradesh.
Two recent terror alerts about the movements of terrorists in cars from Jammu and Kashmir also proved to be a hoax.
What has helped create the panic is the easy availability of an Army uniform. For, it's a common knowledge that these uniforms are openly sold by private vendors under the nose of the local administration.
Be it the Akhnoor Bazaar in Jammu or the Kabadi Bazar of Ambala, one can buy the complete dress of an Army officer/jawan by just spending Rs 500.
It is this easy availability of the Army uniform that makes people believe such terror-related theories. Also, adding to such theories is the fact that the Army and the Air Force base in Ambala has always been on the target of terrorists.
Several people have been arrested from the military area on spying charges. Pakistan had also attacked the Ambala Indian Air Force base in 1965 and 1971.
Whenever there is a terror alert or an attack, the district administration asks the shopkeepers to maintain a record of people buying Army uniforms.
As per the instruction issued by the civil administration, Army personnel buying dress from these shops have not only to write their name but also their mobile number, along with the unit name and number.
Now, this is quite sensitive an information to be shared with any civilian.
"Which unit is posted where or who is working in a particular unit is very sensitive information. If this information is accessed by the enemy, they can contact the Army personnel buying the uniform and even mastermind a terror attack by fleecing the jawans," says a senior Army officer.
While the sale of Army combat uniform continues unabated in the civilian market despite ban, the sensitive security alerts when leaked only benefit anti-social elements. It's time the authorities strictly enforce ban on the sale of Army uniform to civilians.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)