The Punjab Police has launched elaborate investigations to account for the weapons consignments apparently smuggled into India from across the border by the two drones recovered near the Indo-Pak border over the last around one month.
Police teams are also on the job to ascertain the links of the terror groups involved in sending these drones from Pakistan, said a police spokesperson late on Friday night, clarifying that so far only two such drones had been recovered – one last month and the second in a burnt condition three days ago in Jhabal town in Tarn Taran district. The clarification came in the wake of certain media reports referring to the recovery of another drone today.
Investigations so far suggest that several Pak-based terrorist groups were engaged in smuggling weapons into India since August, post the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and both the recovered drones were apparently sent by different terror groups, linked with the Pak ISI, and the State-sponsored Jihadi and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits working under its command. These recoveries had exposed that these outfits had managed to acquire the capacity to deliver various types of terrorist and communication hardware over drones, said the police spokesperson.
Giving details, the spokesperson said the police had stepped up its vigil at the border after the recovery of a crashed ‘Hexacopter Drone’ on 13th August, 2019, from Mohawa village in PS Gharinda, Amritsar (Rural) district – a mere 1.5 kms from the Indo-Pak border. The recovery followed an anonymous call received by Amritsar (Rural) police that a fan type object had been seen in the paddy/fodder fields of a farmer in Mohawa village.
On examination, it was found that the model of the recovered drone was ‘U10 KV100-U’, and it had been designed and manufactured by T Motors, a Chinese company. Four brick-sized batteries (model Tattu – made in China) were also found installed in the Hexacopter. The Airframe of the drone was found to be a make TAROT 680 PRO. Enquires revealed that this kind of Hexacopter (6 electric motors) has a payload capacity of 21 kgs and it could have been assembled from parts, which are available commercially-off-the-shelf.
Further physical examination of the recovered drone revealed that the Hexacopter, weighing about 20-25 kgs, had suffered minor damage to one of its ports and motor propellers, most probably from the impact of the crash landing. Parts of white nylon rope were also recovered from the drone.
Details of the drone were promptly shared with the central government for facilitating detailed technical investigations by concerned central agencies. The state government expressed concern over the movement of large sized drones from across the Indo-Pak border to the Union Home Ministry. It was pointed out that acquisition of such capacity and skills by Jihadi and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits in deployment of drones had serious implications for national security, especially for security of vital installations, security of public meetings/events and highly threatened protectees. It was also impressed that it was imperative to develop suitable measures for detection of such drones and to identify and deploy appropriate counter-measures against the use of such drones.
The heightened vigil launched after the recovery of this drone led the police to the busting of a terror module consisting of Akashdeep Singh, and his associates, including Baba Balwant Singh, Harbhahan Singh, and Balbir Singh @ Binda. Subsequently, Shubhdeep Singh was also arrested for his involvement in the handling of a large consignment of weapons, including hand-grenades, satellite phones, wireless sets and other communication devices, which were recovered from the arrested persons.
Interrogation of the arrested men led to the recovery of the second, half burnt drone, three days. Akashdeep has revealed that two 9 mm pistols had been smuggled over the half burnt drone around the beginning of September. The drone had apparently crashed in the Indian territory before it could fly back to Pakistan after dropping arms near the Indo-Pak border.
The foreign handlers, Gurmeet Bagga of Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), and his terrorist associates based in Pakistan, including KZF chief Ranjeet Singh @ Neeta, who were handling the Akashdeep terror module, had informed Akashdeep and his associates about the crashing of this drone inside Indian territory. They had also shared the coordinates of the crash landing site and further directed Akashdeep to go to the crash site and destroy the drone by burning lest the police came to know about the weapon deliveries over drones. Accordingly, Akashdeep and his associates burnt the drone and also disposed of the steel frame of the drone in a drain, said the spokesperson.