With soldiers stationed at heavily barricaded gates, limited entry points, and CCTV cameras positioned every few metres along the perimeter walls, the Bathinda Military station appears impregnable to intruders.
Armed soldiers manning barricades line the entrance roadways to the military installation. As the manhunt for the killer(s) of four soldiers entered its third day, only military vehicles with valid credentials were permitted inside the perimeter.
On Wednesday morning, four soldiers from the 80 Medium Regiment were discovered shot to death with an army rifle. The jawans were murdered while sleeping in two separate rooms. A witness reported seeing two masked individuals donning kurta-pyjamas and carrying a firearm and an axe, respectively. However, Punjab Police are sceptical of this account.
Barricades mark the complete section of the national highway that divides the military station, as a lockdown-like condition prevails inside. No vehicles are permitted on the slip roads on the flyovers, which pass directly in front of the entry sites to the military station.
The military station is surrounded by concrete barriers topped with concertina wire on one side of the highway. Soldiers man watchtowers at regular intervals along the boundary walls, and the primary entrance gates on both sides of the highway are heavily guarded.
On the opposite side of the highway, the military station lacks a concrete boundary wall, and a metal fence extends along the eight or so kilometres until the road reaches the city of Bathinda. This stretch is densely covered with vegetation and trees.
The entire distance is interspersed with CCTV cameras and floodlights at regular intervals. Similarly, soldiers guard the perimeter fence every few hundred metres. Every gate is equipped with CCTV cameras that capture the entry and exit of vehicles and individuals on foot. Additionally, there are CCTV cameras every few metres along the chain link fence.
This side of the road also features a patrolling track for vehicles along the fence, and as the city approaches, the buildings of Army elements in the station appear to move closer to the boundary wall and fence.
There are signs posted prohibiting photography and the use of drones in the area.
However, drones were observed conducting surveillance in the immediate vicinity of the military station both during the day and late at night.
On the spans that connect the two sides of the military station over the national highway, guards were observed standing watch.
According to Bathinda Police officials, no incriminating evidence has been discovered in the CCTV footage. Whoever perpetrated the murders is likely still inside the military station and has not yet departed.
This is demonstrated by the lack of police activity in the area surrounding the military base. There are no police vehicles patrolling the area in search of suspects, nor are any neighbourhood residents being questioned.
“The rifle used to murder the soldiers was taken from a location near the officers’ mess where the crime occurred. It was discovered dumped in a ditch close to the crime site. This is an essential fact. It indicates that someone who lingers in the area may be implicated in the crime. Along with the Army, we are investigating every aspect,” said a Bathinda police officer who declined to give his name.