Reports about supply of arms and ammunition by Pakistan through drones has led to an increase in activity at the Indo-Pakistan border. The neighbouring country is, however, more keen on using the border in Punjab than any other, including the one in Jammu.

For Pakistan-based terror outfits, the Indo-Pak border in Punjab is the favoured route when it comes to weapon supply. The border in Rajasthan and Gujarat, which would record a few cases of weapons smuggling, recorded no such case in 2021.

According to data compiled by Border Security Force (BSF), the Punjab border has recorded 450 per cent more seizures than the Jammu border, which used to be a priority route. Data also points to Pakistan’s intentions towards India as 2021 was the year when the neighbour attempted maximum chances to send weapons across since 2019. The figure has been increasing every year.

The total number of weapons seized in 2019 and 2020 was not even half the total seized last year. In 2019 and 2020, BSF seized 49 weapons from the Indo-Pak border in Punjab, but in 2021, the force seized 58.

Similarly, from the Jammu and Kashmir border, three arms cases were reported. Also, ammunition recovered from the J&K border by BSF in 2019 and 2020 were around 507. But last year, from the same border, the force seized 200 per cent more ammunition.

The situation on the Punjab border is more serious, and weapons smuggling witnessed a massive rise. In 2019, BSF seized 247 weapons, while it seized 750 in 2020. These numbers witnessed a rise of 340 per cent in 2021. Last year, a 3,322 cases were recorded by BSF. The Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan, which was earlier reporting minor cases, recorded none this year.

According to data, BSF seized the largest haul from the Punjab border among other borders where the force is deployed. “Drones and local networks have made Punjab an easy route to smuggle arms into India. It requires no human life to get involved and is an easy way out. There has been a massive rise in such cases detected by BSF, but many were missed by the force and Punjab Police,” a senior BSF official told News18.

Adding to this, another official said, “Certainly, there is a massive increase in smuggling of arms and ammunition from Punjab. Pakistan is now completely focusing on sending weapons from this border area only, instead of Jammu. We have increased our patrolling and are following latest standard operating procedures to curb the smuggling.”

In 2020, Punjab Police recovered an AK-47 rifle and 30 live cartridges dropped by a Pakistan drone from wheat fields near the international border in Gurdaspur district. The seizure of an assault rifle and cartridges came barely 48 hours after the recovery of 11 hand grenades from a field in Salach village, about 1 km from the border.

Last year, security forces also witnessed a new trend that drones carrying arms and drugs could carry more payload. Drones used in 2021 were much more advanced than drones used in 2019-20.

India is also gearing up for technology-based warfare and has set up equipment to check drone activities. The Centre and Punjab government are also well aware of the threat. The Punjab government, last year, sought 25 companies of Central Armed Police Forces and anti-drone gadgets for BSF for protection from Pakistan-backed terror forces in view of repeated incursion of drones from across the border.

The request was made by then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh during his meeting with union home minister Amit Shah. Citing the recent heavy influx of weapons, hand grenades and IEDs into the state, Amarinder had told Shah that the security situation was grave and needed the Centre’s immediate intervention.

The CAPF deployment has been sought for Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mohali, Patiala, Bathinda, Phagwara and Moga, as well as anti-drone technology for BSF deployed at the borders.