AMRITSAR/HISAR/CHANDIGARH: Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) terrorists burned the drone sent from Pakistan to drop arms and ammunition into Punjab after it failed to fly back, the Punjab police said on Wednesday. It said the half-burnt drone was recovered from the warehouse of a rice shelling unit in Chabhal area on Bhikhiwind road, Tarn Taran.

The Indian Army’s South Western Command chief, Lt Gen Alok Singh Kler, meanwhile, said in Hisar that the armed forces were capable of identifying such devices and any military drone venturing towards India from Pakistan would be “shot down”. The police said on Wednesday that Gurdev Singh, a brother of Germany-based Gurmeet Singh Bagga, the alleged handler of a terror module busted recently, was arrested from Jalandhar’s PAP Chowk for alleged involvement in the drone operation.

The police had busted a terror module of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), backed by a group based in Pakistan and Germany, on Sunday. Four KZF terrorists — Balwant Singh, alias Nihang, Akashdeep Singh, alias Akash Randhawa, Harbhajan Singh and Balbir Singh — had been arrested from Chohla Sahib village in Tarn Taran. “The accused said the drone was burnt as it failed to return to Pakistan after dropping off the consignment of weapons in village Bhuse (in Tarn Taran),” the official said.

After it crashed, the drone operators in Pakistan sent the location of the crash to the accused, who recovered it and later burnt it, the police officer said. The police, along with a forensic team, recovered some parts on Tuesday, including the GPS antenna of the drone. “Some parts of the drone have been disposed of in a canal located near Gurdwara Baba Budha Sahib,” the police officer said, adding that divers would recover them. During questioning, the accused told investigators that GPS-fitted “big” drones made multiple sorties to drop arms and ammunition from across the border.

Five AK-47 rifles, 16 magazines and 472 rounds of ammunition, four Chinese-made .30 pistols along with eight magazines and 72 rounds of ammunition, nine hand grenades, five satellite phones with ancillary equipment, two mobile phones, two wireless sets and fake Indian currency notes with a face value of Rs 10 lakh were seized from the four accused.

Another agency quoted an IB report in the case that said the ISI front man handling the airdrop from Pakistan was Ranjit Singh, alias Neeta, who operates from a guesthouse in Lahore provided by his ISI handlers. Further investigation revealed that the Chinese-built drones were flown from a place two km inside Pakistani territory, the police said.

According to sources, the seized fake currency was of high print quality and would be matched with high-quality fake currency notes recovered by the Delhi police’s special cell. Meanwhile, the intelligence agencies’ input about possible terror attacks in Amritsar and Pathankot, among other cities, coupled with the drone delivery of weapons, has set off alarm bells here. The security agencies have ordered staff to be extra vigilant. Security at both airports has been strengthened and required preventive measures taken to avert any mishap, said sources.