Pathankot, a Year On: Questions on Infiltration Still Unanswered

Despite the probe carried out by the NIA, many residents question how terrorists managed to reach Pathankot.

Updated
India
3 min read
The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on 19 December filed a chargesheet in the case. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

Even a year after the deadly Pathankot airbase attack, which took the lives of seven security personnel at the base and a local taxi driver, many questions still remain unanswered about the infiltration carried out by four terrorists who were later gunned down by the security forces.

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on 19 December had filed a chargesheet in the case, but answers to many questions – such as the exact point of entry and how the four terrorists crossed the border undetected despite the heavy BSF presence – remain a mystery.

Despite the probe carried out by the NIA, many residents of the border area have questioned the circumstances, under which the four Pakistani terrorists entered India and managed to reach Pathankot.

According to the NIA chargesheet, the terrorists illegally crossed the Indo-Pak International Border through the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost. Empty food packets manufactured in Pakistan and other food articles from the country were recovered that were found from the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost during investigation also point to the same, but the BSF’s revelation that the wires along the border fence were untouched raises questions over the NIA’s narrative.

Locals continue to believe that the terrorists used the gap on River Ujh, which is almost dry at this time of the year to make their way to the camp, raising the question how the BSF with their powerful searchlights, failed to detect the breach which led to loss of eight innocent lives.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Sumit Singh, a panchayat member of nearby Bamiyal village, who owns land just a few hundred metres from the point where Ujh enters Pakistan, expressed surprise at how the terrorists went unnoticed despite the presence of two border observation posts in the area.

The search parties of the BSF and police and later the NIA investigators, were of the opinion that the terrorists may have hid in the sugarcane fields for some time.
Armed forces during the counter-terror operation at Pathankot.  (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Armed forces during the counter-terror operation at Pathankot. (Photo: The Quint)

Subedar Major (Retired) Narain Singh, who had first noticed footmarks of terrorists in front of his tubewell which is close to Sumit Singh’s lands, questions how the four men reached the point on the Bamiyal Road without any help.

They must have had someone who helped them get to the Kathana T-point from where they hijacked the Innova

Police, however, had earlier ruled out the possibility after questioning members of a Gujjar settlement next to Narain’s field.

Another local, Dharampal Sharma raised similar questions. He said, “Who can say it for sure? But then there has to be some involvement of people this side of the border, too, for them to reach so deep inside.”

Terrorists Possibly Used the Road to Reach the Airbase

Narain Singh adds that since the Army normally carries out its exercises in this area and also due to BSF presence, it is not uncommon to see people in camouflaged uniform and as such the terrorists could have used the road without raising suspicion.

Another resident of the area, Suresh Sharma of the nambardar of Simbal village located about half-a-kilometre from the border, said:

No one would question people going about in Army uniform and though the perception is that they crossed over to Bamiyal through the fields, even if they had used the road, it would not have arisen suspicion.

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