IAF issues shoot-at-sight orders around installations

Learning from the Pathankot terror attacks in January, the Indian Air Force issued shoot- at-sight orders against anyone attempting to scale the walls of the bases under the sensitive Western Air Command.

"All bases in the Western Air Command have been put on high alert. Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued against anyone attempting to enter the base by scaling the perimeter wall or through unauthorised access," a senior IAF officer said.

The IAF has also asked the government to strictly impose the ban against construction within 100 metres of any air base and within 900 metres of its ammunition depot.

India is continuing to put pressure on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack, which killed at least eight people, to justice.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also weighed in on the issue and said that for India, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and Pathankot terror attacks have signified a "tectonic shift". "Most of the terror attacks in India emanate from Pakistan and it will have to show some sincerity and take concrete steps to rein in the various terror groups operating against India from its soil," the minister told reporters on Wednesday.

A senior IAF officer, replying to queries about an insider possibly having had a role in the Pathankot attack, said on Wednesday said that the National Investigation Agency was investigating this angle but a preliminary probe by IAF has not found anything to substantiate such a suspicion.

Describing the Pathankot attack as a "learning experience", the official said that IAF is in the process of finalising a Rs8,000-crore comprehensive security proposal for its 54 main flying bases in the country.

That will include smart perimeter intrusion system, CCTVs, motion detectors, quadro drones, among other things. The cost will come to about Rs100-150 crore per base, he said.

The officer said, "These proposals were already in the pipeline. Because of financial constraints, we are doing it in a phased manner. Our first focus was to protect the main assets and then move to the perimeter wall."

He said the government has told IAF that there will be no financial constraints for these works.

"The proposal is being prepared. We hope to get it going as soon as possible," he said, adding that the IAF is fast-tracking the process.

Veterans and even the union defence minister Manohar Parrikar admitted to ''blind spots'' and ''some gaps'' that led to the terror attack in which all the six infiltrators were killed.

Armed with AK 47, under barrel grenades, commando knives and at least 40 to 50 kilograms of bullets, besides three to four dozens of magazines, the terrorists who carried out the attacks were prepared to set up camp for at least a few days. That sort of operation needs planning, and India's intel did not see it coming.