THE seizure of a box with hand grenades in Gurdaspur, dropped by a drone launched from across the border, is a stark reminder of the newest logistical and technological challenge posed by Pakistan’s narco-terror enterprise. From trafficking drugs and small arms using flying objects, it is now relying on upgraded versions that can ferry larger and heavier payloads. There have been a number of instances of security forces capturing arms and ammunition making their way in through drone infiltration, and the winter months with fog could see more such activity in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
Five days prior to the latest midnight drop — which was detected by alert security personnel and did not go unchallenged — a drone module with international linkages was busted in Amritsar. As they try to unravel the nexus of the accused, arrested following multiple raids, with Pakistan-based smugglers and terrorist outfits, the investigating agencies have their hands full. The task has been made more difficult following revelations that drones were being procured, assembled, sold and repaired right in the middle of the national capital without any government authorisation. Purchased drones are meant to be registered and a Unique Identification Number is to be applied for. Since this was not done, the drones could not be monitored.
As efforts are on to deploy improved anti-drone systems and find better technical solutions, there is also a demand to install low-level radars along the border to destroy the quadcopters. The threat posed by Chinese armed drones being exported to Pakistan, too, is not lost on the security establishment. The urgency required to deal with the crisis at hand cannot be stressed enough. Another aspect that needs attention is the glaring gaps in drone management and regulation in the country. Data estimation of rogue or unregulated drones has already been conducted. In the works is training of even police personnel in drone detection, tracking and identification. It’s bound to be a protracted battle.