Eliminate perpetrators, raise fidayeen against Pakistan: Army ex-chief

Kolkata: Former army chief, Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury (retd) on Thursday blamed intelligence failure for the Pulwama terror attack and suggested some non-governmental Indian agency raise a “fidayeen” (suicide squad) against Pakistan to avenge such incidents.

“Obviously, there was an intelligence failure. They (the Indian military authorities) should not have sent such a big convoy of 70 trucks. They should not have done so many things.

“But now, they have to get this gang, or group, find out those who have perpetrated it, and eliminate them. That is what is to be done,” Roychowdhury, who headed the Indian Army 1994-97, said.

He said like terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad is also an old outfit, and intelligence agencies have lot of information about them.

“The terrorists have to be tracked down, for which the intelligence agencies have to start working. It may be difficult to eliminate them at one go. They have to be hunted down one by one and killed,” he said.

However, he said there might be complications if the terrorists have infiltrated from Pakistan.

“But I think, the perpetrators must have gone to some local hideouts,” he said.

Asked whether he saw a Pakistan hand in the militant strike, he said: “I have always maintained that Pakistan has a role (in such incidents).. They have to be punished.”

Roychowdhury said he has for long been advocating that India must raise a fidayeen squad.

“I have been saying we must also have our own fidayeen. But the government or the army can’t do it. That’s not their job. We have to devise some other way…

“We need a third party… a third group… some non-governmental agency which can take up the job. Unless we retaliate, respond in kind for every person we lose, these things will go on and on.

He said there were problems both in Kashmir and across the border. “So many groups can’t come from across the border. Where did they make the weapons and bombs and transported them to the spot?”

But he discounted the theory that terrorism and talks cannot go together. “That is wrong. Terrorism and talks can go together. But for that, first we need to respond in kind, and then carry on the talks.”

In the worst ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 43 troopers and leaving the security established stunned.