Chandigarh: BSF Special Director General, Western Command, Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, on Monday said that a total of 95 drones, mostly from Punjab, have been recovered this year. He added that many steps, including increasing troops deployment and conducting vulnerability mapping, have been taken to prevent smuggling of narcotics and weapons from across the border.

The Western Command of the Border Security Force (BSF) is responsible for effective border management on the India-Pakistan border with five frontiers Kashmir, Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Addressing the media here, Khurania said that narcotics smuggling has been seen as a challenge for a long time in Punjab and some areas of Rajasthan and Jammu.

"For the last two to three years, we are seeing that continuous attempts are being made to smuggle drugs and weapons from across the border with the use of drones," he added.

Khurania said training is being given to the BSF troops and technique is also being used to prevent smuggling from across the border.

"I am happy to say that 95 drones have been seized by the BSF and the state police till now in 2023," said Khurania, adding that most of them have been recovered in Punjab.

Talking about the steps being taken to prevent smuggling of narcotics, Khurania said that a database has been prepared in which vulnerability mapping has been conducted to see where more such illegal activities are taking place.

"Who are the people involved in this crime? A database has also been prepared in this regard as well," he said.

The BSF Special Director General (DG) further said their efforts are not only limited to bringing down drones but also to take forward investigation into it with the police to find out for whom the drone came and who were involved in it.

"There are many cases in which those who were involved in it were nabbed and following their investigation, we got good inputs," he added.

Khurania said that the BSF troops were earlier deployed at the borders only.

He said that the troops deployment has been increased with an increase in the drone activity and its movement was seen five to six kilometers inside the Indian territory.

Khurania said that special 'Nakas' (checkpoints) have been put up with the assistance of the local police to check illegal activities.

He further said that CCTVs would be installed under a plan at vulnerable points near the border areas in Punjab to prevent smuggling activities, adding they will be installed by March 2024.

Khurania said that a detailed SOP (standard operating procedure) has been prepared for the jawans on how to deal with the drones coming from across the border.

Technical and human solutions have been incorporated in it, he added.

The senior BSF officer said that big drones were earlier being used with payload capacity of three to five kg.

"But now in the past three months, we have seen a change in which small drones are being used to carry 400 to 500 grams of weight," he said speaking about the change of tactics by the smugglers in the recent past in smuggling of heroin from across the border.

Khurania said that it could be because the small drones are cheaper and there will be less damage if a drone is shot down.

He, however, said it is also difficult to observe small drones.

"We have accepted these challenges," he added.

Lauding the farmers living near the border areas in Punjab, Khurania said they are eyes and ears of the BSF and provide information whenever they find any suspicious activity.

He said that a total of 755 kg of narcotic items, 15 assorted rifles and 38 pistols were seized by the BSF during various operations in 2023 besides apprehending 36 Pakistani nationals and neutralizing nine intruders from across the border along the International Boundary (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC).