Pathankot attack: BSF zeroes in on two intrusion theories — a tunnel, Kashmir route

Inspection team finds no breach in 20-km stretch of border; footprints in Bamial have Pak firm’s marking.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: January 8, 2016 10:37 am
The sealed footprint samples collected from Bamial, Wednesday. (Express Photo by: Gurmeet Singh) The sealed footprint samples collected from Bamial, Wednesday. (Express Photo by: Gurmeet Singh)

The Border Security Force (BSF) is now looking at the possibility of terrorists using a tunnel on the Punjab border to sneak into India or having come all the way from Jammu and Kashmir to launch an attack on the Pathankot airbase.

This after the BSF carried out inspection of the international border in Punjab and did not find any sign of breach of fence or the ingress of terrorists.

A team of senior BSF officials, led by Director General D K Pathak, visited the international border in Gurdaspur, Punjab, on Tuesday to take stock of the border defences and ascertain how the terrorists may have sneaked in. BSF sources said that the team inspected a 20-km stretch, covering several border outposts (BoPs) on either side of Bamial post from where the terrorists are suspected to have entered.

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Curiously, the team did not find a single breach anywhere in the fence on the whole stretch. In the gaps, where there are no fences due to rivers and nullahs, there are elaborate technical defences that have been set up after the Dinanagar attack in July last year.

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“None of the digital video cameras or the thermal imaging cameras have detected any movement across the border in the past 15 days,” said a BSF official.

One of the digital video cameras, installed at Bamial, however, has been found to be malfunctioning. “Its coverage area, however, is covered by another camera installed on the opposite side. So there are no blind spots in any of the gaps on the stretch,” said another officer who was part of the team.

Sources pointed out that given these facts, the force is looking at the possibility of terrorists either having used a tunnel or having come all the way from neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir.

“We haven’t found any tunnel either. But more searches are being conducted. It is also possible that the terrorists had been hiding in Kashmir for over a month and sneaked into Punjab days before the attack. It has happened earlier,” said a senior officer.

There are, however, several pointers that terrorists may have sneaked in through the Punjab border. Not only did the two incidents — abduction of a Punjab police officer and murder of a taxi driver — take place near the border with Pakistan, but also the supposed footprints of the terrorists in a farmer’s field were found just five and a half kilometres from Bamial border outpost. The footmarks are now increasingly suspected to be those of the terrorists as they bear the name of a shoe company in Pakistan.

The BSF on Tuesday sent a report to the Union Home Ministry in which it detailed the steps it had taken to fortify the north Punjab border after the Dinanagar attack, apart from the possible lapses in the current incident of infiltration. The BSF has pointed out that after the Dinanagar attacks it had deputed as many as nine companies of the force around Bamial and covered the riverine gaps with cameras and flood lighting. Some gaps also have laser walls connected to an alarm system.

In its report, it has also pointed out the vulnerability of the gaps to infiltration. Sources said the force is also making regular communication with the Home Ministry on what needs to be done to fortify the vulnerable Punjab border.