The Indian security forces have recorded at least 250 sightings of drones on the Western front with Pakistan since 2019, and at least two drones have entered India this year before the Jammu attack on Sunday, according to the official data.
Pakistan was not only using drone technology for smuggling activities but also for surveillance purposes. However, in the last few months, the movement has increased, said the Border Security Force (BSF).
At least 167 recorded sightings of drones were reported in 2019 while at least 77 were found in last year on the Western front with Pakistan.
According to the Union home ministry, 182 incidents of flying of drones were observed on the borders between December 2018 and December 2019.
This year too, several incidents were reported. In fact, the BSF had reported increased drone activities along the international border over the last few weeks.
In June, at least two incidents of Pakistani drones were spotted before the attack on the Jammu Airport, which is also an Indian Air Force station.
Earlier this month, the security forces busted Pakistan’s plan to send arms and ammunition into the Indian side using drones via the Line of Control in the Thanamandi area of Rajouri district. In another incident, a huge consignment of arms and ammunition, which were being transported from Jammu to Srinagar and were dropped by a drone, was recovered by the security forces.
In May, the BSF recovered a payload of arms and ammunition dropped by a Pakistani drone along the International Border in Samba.
At least two drones from Pakistan entered the Indian territory along the international border in April. The drones, which entered the Arnia sector of Jammu, were attacked by the BSF guards. As the guards opened fire, the drones flew back into Pakistani territory.
In January, the J&K Police caught two men red-handed collecting a heavy cache of arms and ammunition dropped via drones. The men were arrested along the India-Pakistan International Border at Vijaypur in J&K’s Samba district.
In October 2020, the security forces shot down a Pakistan Army drone in the Keran sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. In September, the security forces recovered two consignments of arms and ammunition that were drone-dropped in the Akhnoor sector of the Union Territory. In June last year, the BSF shot down a Pakistani drone carrying several weapons, including seven grenades. The hexacopter was spotted near the international border in Hiranagar sector of Kathua.
Jammu and Kashmir was not the only region impacted by Pakistani drones. Punjab too had reported several drone related incidents. In December 2020, the Punjab police seized 11 hand grenades that were suspected to have been airdropped by a drone flying in from Pakistan. The grenades were recovered from a sugarcane field near the international border in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.
In 2019, at least two drones were recovered in Punjab as well. In August 2019, the Punjab police recovered a crashed hexacopter drone from Mohawa village, just 1.5 km from the Indo-Pak border, in Amritsar. A month later, another drone was found in Tarn Taran district of the state.
Acknowledging that supply of weapons through drones from across the Pakistan border were reported, the Union Home Ministry had said the government has been taking various steps to meet such challenges, which include round-the-clock effective surveillance and streamlining the intelligence set up.
The ministry also said the government is ensuring capacity building of forces, patrolling on the borders along with sensitisation of local population in border areas, establishment of observation posts, border fencing, flood lighting, deployment and use of modern and hi-tech surveillance equipment.
Further, in order to counter the threat of drones in the country, the Ministry said necessary guidelines were issued, which include measures to be taken by the central and the state governments in consultation with the security agencies.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with threats from drones were issued in April 2019 to all states and Union Territories for implementation.
Also, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regulate the operation of drones in the country. In August 2018, DGCA notified the Civil Aviation Requirements for operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, laying down the norms for the import, sale and operation of drones.
On Sunday, Pakistan-based terrorists used drones to drop two bombs at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu’s Satwari area leading to minor damage to a building and injuring two airmen.