Sixteen CCTV cameras installed at a toll plaza in Jammu, which could have provided vital clues about the movement of the three terrorists who attacked the artillery camp in Nagrota, were switched off weeks ago when toll-collection was discontinued following the demonetisation policy, officials said. These cameras — four each on four lanes on both sides and eight cabin cameras — were installed at the Ban Plaza, around 4 km from the artillery camp near the XVI Corps headquarters and less than 1 km from a turn leading to Nagrota from the new Srinagar-Jammu national highway, officials said.
“The entire system was shut because no toll was being charged due to the demonetisation drive. The purpose of installing the CCTV cameras was to ensure that toll plaza employees did not commit any wrongdoing, such as accept money and not issue receipts, and keep a tab on vehicles that may pass through without paying toll,” Rakesh Chaudhary, the contractor running the plaza on behalf of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), told The Indian Express.
“Police came looking for the CCTV camera recording. We told them that the cameras had been switched off due to this reason,” Chaudhary said.
Four additional cameras had been installed at the location by J&K Police, two on each side with a separate control system, but they were rendered useless the night before the attack due to a short-circuit in the transformer at the plaza, leading to a power failure.
Employees at the toll plaza said that alternate power was not available because the 160-KVA generator provided by the NHAI did not have any fuel. And a separate 32-KVA generator installed by the contractor could not be used because of a faulty battery, they said.
“The 32-KVA generator was mostly used as it consumed less fuel than the 160-KVA generator installed by NHAI. There are two generators of 160-KVA available at the plaza, but the second one is lying unused. The main server for all toll plaza operations was linked to 16 CCTV cameras, computers and barriers on the plaza among other operations,” Ajay Singh Katoch, an electrician at the plaza, said.
Asked about the generators, Hemraj Bhagat, Project Director (Jammu), NHAI, said, “We are not operating the toll plaza… It has been free passage ever since the demonetisation policy was announced (on November 8). We will resume operations on December 2.”
J&K Police Station House Officer (Nagrota), Karan Jhalotra, said police were trying to retrieve as much as possible from the “available recording”.
The three terrorists, wearing J&K police uniform, were gunned down hours after they targeted the artillery camp, killing two officers and five soldiers.