On the western perimeter wall of the Pathankot airbase, a Punjab Police squad guards the spot from where the terrorists are believed to have made a quiet entry over the wall, snipping concertina wires while the floodlights were turned upward.
On the other side of the wall, watchtowers rise at regular intervals, but not at this particular place. Eucalyptus trees tower over the 11-ft wall. But at places, they are bent. Local residents said some branches bent during a storm. It was with the help of one such bent branch that the terrorists are believed to have looped a rope, swung on to the wall, over, and inside.
Now there are floodlights even on the trees. But on the day of the breach, the floodlights focused only on the concrete wall, and three lights were turned upward. Either in the predawn hours of January 1, or late in the night the same day, the terrorists succeeded in breaching the airbase.
From where SP Salwinder Singh’s Mahindra XUV was discovered on the morning of January 1, this stretch of the wall is a little over a kilometre. The SUV was found in a field on the border of Akalgarh and Tajpur, two villages in the vicinity. It was not discovered for several hours after being ditched.