Drones From Across Pak Border More Than Doubled In 2022, Punjab 'Major Culprit Region': BSF DG

Drones From Across Pak Border More Than Doubled In 2022, Punjab 'Major Culprit Region': BSF DG

New Delhi: Drones bringing drugs, arms, and ammunition along the Punjab and Jammu borders from across Pakistan have more than doubled in 2022. Looking for a foolproof solution to this menace, the Border Security Force (BSF) has set up a state-of-the-art laboratory at a camp in Delhi to study drone forensics, Director General Pankaj Kumar Singh said Saturday.

According to news agency PTI, the BSF chief said that the results have been encouraging, the security agencies could track the flight path and address of the criminals involved in this cross-border illegal activity. 

“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 to us with nefarious elements having found new uses of the drone due to its anonymity and quick flight at sufficient height bypassing the frontiers,” he said while briefing Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla who was chairing an event to inaugurate the forensic lab through a webinar session. 

According to DG Singh, while the BSF detected about 79 drone flights along the India-Pakistan international border in 2020, it increased to 109 last year and “more than doubled at 266 this year”.

“The major culprit regions are Punjab which saw 215 flights this year… in Jammu, about 22 flights have been seen,” Singh said.

Singh explained that they realised that the drones have chips similar to computation devices like those on computers and mobile phones. 

The BSF is tasked to guard over 3,000 km of the India-Pakistan International Border running across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Jammu. It first established a drone repair lab in Delhi in September last year and later enhanced it in October to analyse the forensics of the drones shot down or recovered by it, the Punjab Police, and the Narcotics Control Bureau, as per PTI.

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About Rs 50 lakh was spent on creating the forensic lab and deployed tech-savvy officers and personnel have been chosen to run it. Singh said that after forensic analysis they found an information mine.

“We found (after forensic analysis of drones) their flight paths, launching and landing points, timings, GPS (global positioning system) coordinates and even messages they have exchanged and we realised there was an information mine. If we could get into this, we could find suspect’s addresses, locations and much more,” Singh said.

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He informed that the force developed “good coordination” with the Punjab Police over this issue which has also provided the BSF with 200 personnel to conduct “depth patrols” at the front to check drones and their droppings.

Citing a success story, where drone droppings happened in the Havelia area of Punjab in March, the DG said a joint investigation and action by the two security agencies led to the arrest of 8 people, six of whom were convicted for narcotics crime.

The DG said the force has now begun a new system of incentivising and giving cash rewards to its border teams who shoot down drones. “Eleven drones have been shot down (by us) this year and we are giving very handsome incentives to teams that bring them down. There is a very good enthusiasm in these teams,” he added.

The BSF chief stated that the force is now undertaking a two-pronged approach to check this menace.

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“We are undertaking depth patrolling so that people cannot come to the border to pick drone droppings. We are digging deep into drone forensics to extract information about its senders and receivers,” he informed.

The problem is “so acute” and, “this we know by interrogation (of suspects and those apprehended) that wherever our drone teams are deployed… depth patrols are or anti-drone equipment is installed, the criminals go to other parts to undertake the illegal activity”, the DG emphasised.

(With PTI inputs)