New Delhi: Pakistan-backed terror groups and its Inter Services Intelligence have started using bigger drones to expand its capacity to smuggle arms and ammunition across the border in India’s Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, people familiar with the matter said.
Counter-terror officials in Delhi said the terrorist groups and the ISI, which had been using drones for arms trafficking at a small scale over the past few years, had procured upgraded versions of the drones that can carry much larger quantities of firearms in every sortie.
The increased capacity, one official said, was crucial since the high mountain passes on the Line of Control (LoC) are all snowed in to make jihadist infiltration difficult in Jammu and Kashmir. There are multiple intelligence reports, he said, that the Pakistani deep state is using weapon drops in Punjab, which are meant for terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
Latest reports also indicate that Pakistan-based Khalistani groups are also being pushed by their handlers to exploit the farmers’ agitation in Punjab as part of its continuing effort to revive militancy in the border state. These suspicions have been communicated to the Centre and internal security agencies by the State Police time and again.
In Punjab alone, officials said, there have been four Chinese drone recoveries by Punjab Police along with weapons since 12 August 2019 apart from other aerial movements.
But Chinese commercial drones being used to ferry firearms is only one part of the problem. Intelligence agencies have also alerted security forces to stay alert to the threat of the drones capable of carrying loads being used to bomb targets close to the border.
Pakistan’s ISI, inspired by the success of using cheap drones to carry out small bomb attacks, has been exploring this option for terrorist groups. The ISI had laid out its plan first at a meeting with senior Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed commanders in Punjab province’s Taxila in April this year.
Officials said while India is pushing hard to build its anti-drone capacities, the coming two winter months with fog along the border in Punjab and J&K will test the Indian security agencies hard as more drone drops are expected.
Punjab Police, on its part, has asked the Centre as well as the Indian Air Force (IAF) to deploy low-level radars along the border to detect the drones and destroy them. (Hindustan Times)