Drone intrusions along India-Pak border have risen in 2022: BSF data
According to data compiled by the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the International Border (IB) with Pakistan, there were 97 drone sightings in all of 2021, which have gone up to 107 in first seven months this year
Drone intrusions at the India-Pakistan border have almost doubled this year with Pakistan based terror groups and smugglers intensifying their efforts to send weapons, explosives and drugs using these vehicles.
According to data compiled by the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the International Border (IB) with Pakistan, there were 97 drone sightings in all of 2021, which have gone up to 107 in first seven months this year.
The majority of drone intrusions have been reported from Punjab, where 93 drones were seen crossing between January 1 and July 31 this year, followed by 14 in Jammu (at the international border).
In comparison, there were only 64 drone intrusions observed at the IB in Punjab and 31 in Jammu during 2021. Two drones were seen entering from the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu last year while there has been no drone sighting there thus far this year.
“There are still five months left in this year and activity to smuggle arms and explosives through various routes usually increase towards winters. Also, these are just those drones which our jawans could hear or notice or locals informed us about. It is very difficult to intercept, stall and deactivate all the drones at such a vast border,” said a BSF officer, who didn’t want to be named.
The drones drop weapons such as rifles, pistols, military grade explosive RDX, detonators, grenades, assembled and semi-assembled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) such as tiffin (lunch-box) bombs and sticky bombs, drugs, and fake currency.
A senior counter-terrorism official, requesting anonymity, said “terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its offshoot in Jammu and Kashmir The Resistance Front (TRF), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as well as Khalistani outfits backed by Pakistani spy agency ISI are continuously using Chinese drones to send payloads via Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur in Punjab and Kathua, R S Pura and Kanachak areas in Jammu”.
Some of these weapons and IEDs sent via drones have, in fact, been used in terror attacks in Ludhiana, Kashmir and other areas in last two years. For instance, the TRF carried out a twin-drone attack at Jammu Air Force Station, in which two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) travelled from across the border and dropped two 3 kg to 5 kg improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the air facility, damaging a portion of the building. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is currently investigating the case, apart from half a dozen other cases pertaining to use of drones for dropping explosives in Punjab and Jammu.
BSF has tried to bring down some of the drones or traced their destinations with the help of local police. The border force has also deployed several technologies including ‘Anti-Drone Guns’, which use jammers to block the GPS and radio links of the drones, forcing them to land.
It also fires at the low flying drones and has been successful in taking down six drones this year in Ferozepur, Amritsar and Abohar areas of Punjab till July 15 this year. Last year, the BSF shot down two drones.
However, the BSF officer cited above said, “We don’t have fool-proof solution to drone intrusions. We are working with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) and private companies to have modern technologies to deal with the threat of drones.”
Experts say that drones are being used by Pakistan based groups to avoid capture of men and reduce costs.
Shreya Upadhyay, a strategic affairs expert and assistant professor at Christ University, Bengaluru, said : “The drones are becoming an alternative to physical infiltration of terrorists and mules; they are easy to operate as well, from a covered area or building across the border. Steps need to be taken for the indigenization of drone sensors and platforms.”
Sameer Patil, a Mumbai based internal security expert, said : “The increase in drone sightings suggests that Pakistan based saboteurs have found the usage of drones as a cost-effective means to smuggle contraband, notwithstanding several interdictions. It also denotes that they have successfully leveraged the gaps in border surveillance.”