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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Cross-border heroin trafficking on the rise

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times  Khasa (Amritsar), October 10, 2013
First Published: 20:51 IST(10/10/2013) | Last Updated: 21:03 IST(10/10/2013)

Even as the Border Security Force (BSF) claims to be keeping a strict watch along the Indo-Pak border, heroin smuggling continues in the area, with 26-kg heroin recovered from the sector on Thursday.

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In fact, the trend seems to be on the rise as the BSF had seized 288-kg heroin in the state last year, while till date, the figure has already crossed the 250-kg mark. In the Amritsar sector, 79 kg were recovered last year, while this year, till date, 124 kg have been seized.

The BSF, however, claims that it has changed certain operational strategies to surprise the smugglers, leading to seizures.

Route
The BSF says that the route used by smugglers has remained the same over the years. Heroin is moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan to India, especially Punjab, through various sectors.

Modus operandi
Pakistani smugglers wrap the consignment in cloth. The package is pushed into a 10 to 12 ft plastic pipe, which is hung in the fence so it can be retrieved by Indian smugglers, the BSF says. This modus operandi is employed in at least 90% cases. At times, drugs are found abandoned in fields across the fence or thrown over by Pakistani smugglers.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/BSFF.jpg

                   (BSF officials with recovered heroin in Amritsar. PTI)

Reasons for spurt in heroin smuggling
BSF deputy inspector general MF Farooqui claimed that the sudden increase in smuggling could not be attributed to one specific reason.

"High yield in Afghanistan and withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces from that country could have led to an increase in cross-border smuggling. Besides, smugglers may be in a rush to push out the drugs before the Basmati crop in Punjab, which provides ample cover to them, is harvested. However, these conditions have always prevailed, so we cannot be sure," he added.
He admitted that Pakistan Rangers' surveillance did not seem to be very effective.

Pakistan in denial mode
Sources alleged that every time a seizure was made, the BSF expressed its displeasure through a 'flag meeting' with officials of Pakistan Rangers, but these meetings did not seem to serve any purpose, as those officials remained in "denial mode" and denied having spotted any smugglers or hearing any gunshots.

However, the BSF DIG said that a BSF team had recovered 17-kg heroin from the Pul Moran area, meters away from the Pakistan Border Out Post (BOP), alleging that it was "not possible without the connivance of the Pakistan Rangers."

Initiatives taken by the BSF
DIG Farooqui said, "We have added surprise elements in our patrolling pattern, and have tried to make it unpredictable. Apart from posting jawans and adopting various strategies at sensitive areas, especially where physical elements are present across the fence, efforts are being made to improve electronic surveillance and to expand it across the border area."
"We are also keeping an eye on the reported use of SIM cards sourced from Pakistan," he said, adding that BSF jawans had been banned from taking mobile phones on patrols after two jawans were nabbed by Tarn Taran police for their alleged involvement with smugglers.

Challenges
The BSF is worried about the approaching winter season, which would bring fog, used as a cover by smugglers.
Besides, use of SIM cards from Pakistan and the lack of cooperation from across the border have made the BSF's job harder.

Heroin recovered
In 2012
From border area 288 kg
Amritsar sector 79 kg
Till October 10, 2013
From border area 257 kg
Amritsar sector 124 kg
Major recoveries
October 9, 2013 BOP Rajatal 26 kg
October 5 BOP Pul Moran 17 kg
September 2 BOP Amar 11 kg
April 17 BOP Roranwala 20 kg
April 5 BOP Rajatal 9 kg

Other recoveries
Tarn Taran police and State Special Operation Cell seized 19-kg heroin on ?????????. Two BSF jawans were also nabbed

On Wednesday, the State Special Operation Cell and Jalandhar counter-intelligence seized 6 kg heroin

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