Pakistan’s ISI is trying to activate the narco-terror network in the border state of Punjab in India by flowing in drones carrying drugs and also via the sea.
Interception of a fifth drone on the Punjab border in just four days has yet again highlighted the preference of the Pakistan-based smugglers for the border state when it comes to pushing drugs and arms into Indian territory. And if not drones, they prefer the sea route, after all, the seizure of 3000 kg of heroin in September 2021, and a year later confiscation of heroin worth Rs 375 crore — 70 kg — from Mundra port proves that beyond any doubt.
The drone intercepted by the Border Security Force (BSF) on Monday night in a border village in Amritsar was carrying two packets of 2.1 kilogram of suspected narcotics. This is the fifth interception of a drone from Pakistan along the Punjab border since 19 May.
A BSF officer said with the help of their local network in the border districts including Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, and Pathankot, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have made it easy for the Pakistan-based cartels to smuggle drugs and arms into India, especially during nights hours.
He said these low-flying UAVs ensure an undetected supply of drugs and arms in remote areas along the border at night. These consignments sent by Pakistan-based smugglers are then picked up by their accomplices in border areas of the state.
It’s not surprising that a nearly four-fold increase was registered in drone activity on the Punjab border in 2022 with the number of drone movements from across the border going up from 67 in 2021 to 256 in 2022. As only 22 drones coming from Pakistan were shot down by the BSF last year, this manifold rise in the cross-border drone movements has forced the Punjab Police to involve locals in the detection of such an activity.
Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Gaurav Yadav has declared a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone providing information on drone movement leading to the recovery of weapons or narcotics.
During a coordination c
um review meeting with senior officials of the BSF and the Punjab Police to further strengthen the security at the border to prevent the cross border smuggling on 17 May, Special DGP Arpit Shukla proposed to activate Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in the border areas to counter the nexus between smugglers and criminals in the border areas.
“These committees will work as eyes and ears of the Police and supplement the efforts of Punjab Police to wipe out drugs, terrorists, and gangsters from the border state,” said Shukla.
Giving a call for greater synergy and teamwork between the BSF and the Punjab Police, the special DGP said it was high time that both the elite forces worked in tandem and better coordination to counter drone operations along the Punjab border, which have emerged a “new threat”.
He also stressed the need to carry out evidence-based and proactive policing to prevent the smuggling of narcotics and weapons into Punjab from across the border.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras will be installed at strategic locations and hotspots in border villages to install CCTV cameras to keep vigil over Indian Nationals involved in cross-border smuggling.
Shukla said Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has sanctioned Rs 20 Crores for the installation of CCTV Cameras at strategic locations in the border villages.
BSF officials have been asked to share inputs of movements of suspected persons with the Punjab Police so that they can keep a sharp vigil on their activities and ensure penal action against those found involved in any criminal activity.