Security personnel in and around Pathankot district of Punjab were put on high alert on Wednesday after four men allegedly commandeered a taxi at gunpoint near Madhopur town. The four men allegedly hired the taxi from Jammu railway station on Tuesday night, and on reaching Pathankot, forced the driver to get out of the vehicle and fled with it.
Pathankot Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Sheel Soni confirmed to PTI that the accused stole the taxi at gunpoint. The Pathankot Police has sent a team to Samba in Jammu, where the occupants of the vehicle had dinner on Tuesday night. CCTV footage will be examined to identify the accused, the police added.
Police in Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Batala have been put on high alert following the incident, The Tribune reported. As many as nine checkpoints were installed on the Pathankot-Gurdaspur-Batala-Amritsar highway within an hour of the incident. Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir was also put on high alert.
Inspector General (Border Police) Surinder Pal Singh Parmar said a terrorism angle cannot be ruled out. “We are not in a position to take any risks, especially after the January 2016 terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force station,” he said. “Six teams have been formed to crack the case. Information has been sought from the two toll barriers located on the Gurdaspur-Pathankot and Batala-Amritsar highways.”
“The taxi was booked in the name of Major Sarvjeet Singh and was Pathankot-bound,” Jammu railway station taxi union vice president Rajvinder Singh said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Our CCTV footage shows there were four people.”
The car’s occupants allegedly paid the driver Raj Kumar Rs 3,550 as advance, and then stopped for dinner at Kathua. “At Lakhanpur toll post, the four occupants told the staff that they were from the Army and hence exempted from paying toll tax,” he added. “When the car reached Madhopur, the four men whipped out their guns with one of the occupants saying that Kumar should be killed.” However, they pushed him away and drove off, Singh claimed.
Kumar claimed that the men spoke in a Punjabi dialect common in Pakistan, Singh said.