The year 2022 saw the highest movement of drones carrying drugs into Punjab from Pakistan, with central agencies suspecting that the menace is linked to Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh’s arrival in the state.
According to data accessed by News18, last year, the Border Security Force — which tackles drone menace — noticed 256 drone movements in Punjab, of which 90 per cent were inside Indian territory. According to the data, the drone movements noticed by BSF in 2021 were 67.
Data also reveals that the Jammu border saw a rise in drone movement last year, with a three-fold increase in total cases of sightings.
Central intelligence agencies, meanwhile, link the increase with Amritpal Singh’s entry into Punjab after spending almost a decade in Dubai.
Sources said Singh’s links have been traced to cross-border drug dealers based in Pakistan like Billa, Bilal, and Rana among others. These dealers are pumping drugs into India with the help of local criminals and villagers located closer to the border, they said.
Officials claim that due to Singh’s help, Punjab was getting a regular supply of arms, ammunition, and drugs. The Khalistan sympathiser was locally managing the supplies in close coordination with people in Pakistan, pushing in contraband to destabilise law and order in Punjab.
Singh was supplied weapons by drones aided by Pakistan’s ISI. When he was living in Dubai — which is the hub of ISI agents — Singh got in touch with them and was motivated by the money offered to challenge the Indian establishment backed by Pakistan, central intelligence agencies have found.
According to the data given by BSF, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, and Ferozpur recorded the highest number of drone movements. Interestingly, Singh’s village is close to Amritsar and agencies suspect that he had hired local criminals to get arms, ammunition, and drugs delivered through drones. He was also in touch with Pakistan-based officials as his cell number had various incoming calls from Pakistan starting with +92.
Recently, BSF said a drone in June 2022 flew from Fengxian district in Shanghai, China, reached Pakistan, and after almost six months, it took off from the Pakistani side towards India before being shot down by the force.
The forensic analysis of the flight path by the BSF revealed that the seized drone had footprints in China and Pakistan.
More importantly, it showed that from September to December last year, the same drone made 28 separate rounds between different parts of Pakistan. However, officials claim the drone must have been flown for trials as it was of Chinese make and later, someone from Pakistan purchased it from the Chinese supplier to send to India.
“The BSF has been at the receiving end of the drone menace for quite some time. The versatility of the drone, which is very well known, has been posing problems for us with nefarious elements having found new uses of the drone due to its anonymity and quick flight at sufficient height bypassing the frontiers,” the BSF DG had said last year, revealing about the increased movement of drones.
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