A BSF team seeking to establish how the Pathankot attackers entered Punjab has found no breach in the fence along the border with Pakistan, nor any sign of infiltration through rivers or nullahs. It has found no tunnel — and no evidence either that the terrorists came from Jammu and Kashmir.
A failure to detect the terrorists’ tracks was seen in the Dinanagar attack of July 2015 as well. The investigation in that attack, in which four policemen and three civilians were killed, has not made much headway.
The team, led by a DIG-level officer, is likely to submit its report to BSF D-G D K Pathak next week. Pathak will subsequently apprise the Home Ministry of the findings. The D-G formed the team on January 7 after tell-tale signs such as Pakistani shoe marks were found in a field in a border village.
Sources said the team has combed the entire length of the Punjab border, and especially the northern stretch close to the Jammu border. “No breach has been found anywhere in the fences in Punjab or in Jammu.
At the over 150 gaps along the two borders, there no signs of anyone having crossed over. Almost all gaps in the Jammu border, and vulnerable gaps in the Punjab border, are covered by digital video recorders and thermal imaging cameras. No evidence of infiltration was found,” said an official privy to the team’s findings.
A preliminary investigation carried out by a team led by the D-G himself had produced similar results. Pathak had inspected a 20-km stretch on either side of Bamial village, where the terrorists were suspected to have entered, immediately after the attack, and found nothing amiss. Pathak had communicated his findings to Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
However, to ensure a thorough investigation, a special team was formed to go over the entire length of the border closely.
“The problem is that the terrorists were not carrying any GPS with them, which could have provided clues to their route. It may now take months to figure out, with evidence, exactly how and where they entered. It is a setback; it is necessary to know this in order to take preventive steps,” a BSF officer said.
There are reasons to believe the terrorists crossed over in Punjab. Besides the footprints in the field five and a half kilometres from the Bamial outpost, the abduction of SP Salwinder Singh and murder of taxi driver Ikagar Singh also took place near the border in Punjab.
Immediately after the attack, the BSF sent a report to the Home Ministry detailing the steps it had taken to fortify the north Punjab border after the Dinanagar attack, along with the possible lapses in the Pathankot incident, based on preliminary findings.
The BSF said that post-Dinanagar, it had deputed as many as nine companies of the force around Bamial, and covered the riverine gaps with cameras and floodlights. Some gaps also have laser walls connected to an alarm system.
The report pointed out the vulnerability of the gaps to infiltration. Sources said the force has been in touch with the Ministry on strengthening the counter-infiltration grid along the Punjab border.