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Home / India News / ‘We are looking at anti-drone systems,’ says Dinkar Gupta

‘We are looking at anti-drone systems,’ says Dinkar Gupta

Punjab director general of police Dinkar Gupta spoke to Hindustan Times about recent drops of drugs and weapons using China-made drones from across the border in Pakistan and the drug menace in the northern state.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2020 04:48 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Punjab director general of police Dinkar Gupta
Punjab director general of police Dinkar Gupta(Photo: Sanjeev Sharma / Hindustan Times)

Punjab director general of police Dinkar Guptaspoke to Hindustan Timesabout recent drops of drugs and weapons using China-made drones from across the border in Pakistan and the drug menace in the northern state. Edited excerpts:

Six weapon loads have been dropped in Punjab using cross-border drones. Can you tell us the general area from where they are being launched? Who is involved? And what is the gameplan?

Over the years, we had been getting intelligence inputs that drones may be used for terror acts and dropping weapon payloads. First time, it came to our notice on the night of August 12, 2019 when we had a drone with a diameter of five-and-a-half feet coming from across the border to five kilometres inside Indian territory. It dropped a weapon consignment of 10 kilograms, including AK-47 rifle, MP9 rifle, pistols and fake currency.

This was the first time that a drone flew from inside Pakistan, dropped the consignment and then fell within Indian territory as it ran out of battery on the way back. Towards the end of August and a two-week period to middle of September, we had information based on disclosures of accused Akashdeep and Sant Singh of Hoshiarpur, who picked up the consignments and stashed the weapons. The case is now with the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Another drone fell within Indian territory on the way back to Pakistan but was disposed of by the accused by incinerating the fibre parts and throwing the metallic parts into a canal.

Based on disclosures of an accused Army Naik posted at Jat Regimental Centre at Bareilly and arrested on January 9, 2020, apart from details available through interrogation of arrested cross-border drug smugglers, we found that some drones were being launched from villages on the Indian side of the border to fetch hard drugs like 50-60 kilograms of heroin from Pakistan and some five pistols.

So we have a situation where Chinese-made, off- the-shelf drones are being used to bring in both weapons and drugs to Punjab. The drones used from the Indian side, which had been brought from India Mart and Chandini Chowk, were sent to pick up heroin consignments across the border.

Which is the terror group responsible for both drugs and weapons consignments?

There have been people based in Pakistan and in Europe, including Germany, who have been involved in sending these consignments. And then there are these jihadi outfits who work in tandem with the Khalistani separatists based in Pakistan. It is the jihadi outfits who have shared the drone capability with the Khalistani groups and our understanding is that outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have a whole inventory of these drones as batteries are numbered.

In the wake of these drone consignments, are you looking for a system to neutralize these unmanned aerial vehicles?

Yes, we are looking at anti-drone systems from the US, Australia and Israel, which operate on line of sight system. We are also working very closely with Indian Air Force and Border Security Force, which mans 553 kilometre of state border with Pakistan.

So Punjab is faced with terror groups involved in sending weapon consignment and the other is the drug smuggling from Pakistan which is funding the entire exercise. Drugs are a serious issue in Punjab, with Afghanistan recording a bumper crop of opium. The result is that India is not only the transit point but also the consumer point for hard drugs from the Af-Pak region. How, as a border state, are you handling this?

Fact is there is a huge drug supply network based in Pakistan, which under the patronage of the deep state is using the money for funding terror. Most of the Khalistani separatists like Harmeet Singh aka Happy PhD of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) have been turned into drug dealers to fund terror in Punjab. As you know, Happy was killed in a fight with a local drug dealer over money and a woman, as per intelligence inputs. It is these chiefs of Pakistan-based Khalistani groups who are bent on destroying Punjab youth through drugs. This is worse than terrorism, with a huge hawala network involved.

How do you intend to tackle this humongous problem of drugs in Punjab? Have you been able to identify the drug lords in this business?

We have a list of 50 people based in Pakistan who are involved in this drug racket. This is a vast network from Australia to Dubai and beyond. The drug and arms runners use the riverine gaps and underground tunnelling to cross the border, which they have mapped over the years.

We need to put sensors both on ground and on the fencing to plug the gaps in technology that is now 30 years old. BSF is currently trying to co-opt latest technology to ensure that loopholes are plugged. In Punjab we have a peculiar problem that cultivation goes not only up to the fence but beyond it. So while a large number of Punjab youth are going abroad for greener pastures, those staying here are exposed to the drug menace.