Army naik, two others held with drones, rifle magazines

Army naik, two others held with drones, rifle magazines

Army naik, Rahul Chauhan and two others are arrested by the Punjab police for allegedly smuggling drugs and weapons using Chinese GPS- fitted drones

An image representing arrest. (AFP PHOTO)

An Army naik and two others have been arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and weapons from across the Indo-Pak border using GPS-fitted drones in collusion with their Pakistani accomplices, Punjab Police said on Friday.

Punjab police chief Dinakar Gupta said they seized two Chinese-made drones, 12 drone batteries, some custom-made drone containers, an INSAS rifle magazine and two walkie-talkie sets, besides Rs 6.22 lakh in cash from them.

The cash is suspected to be the sale proceed of the smuggled drugs, said Director General of Police Gupta, adding that no drug, however, has been recovered from them as yet.

He said three persons, including an Army naik, Rahul Chauhan, were arrested.

“Now we have come across a module in which three people were arrested where they were launching drones from India to across the border (Pakistan) and they were to bring back drugs payloads,” Gupta said, adding they suspected both drugs and small weapons like pistols came from the other side of the border.

Detailing about the two drones seized from smugglers, Gupta said the first drone, a Quadcopter was recovered from an abandoned government dispensary in Modhe village in Amritsar (Rural).

The second one, a Hexacopter, was recovered from the house of a friend of arrested Army Naik Chauhan in Karnal in Haryana on his disclosures, DGP Gupta said.

During the probe, it has transpired that such drones were being used to drop weapons, hand grenades, satellite phones and fake currency notes in India.

Detailing Naik Chauhan's role in the novel modus operandi of smuggling drugs and weapons using drones, the DGP said he was involved in not only procuring and supplying drones but also training the cross-border smugglers how to use them.

Police said Rahul, an Ambala cantonment resident, even operated its to-and-fro sorties of drones across the border for smuggling consignments of heroin and weapons from Pakistan.

The two other accused were identified as Dharminder Singh of Dhanoa Khurd village in Amritsar and Balkar Singh of Sara Amanat Khan in Amritsar.

While Dharminder was arrested from village Hardo Rattan, about 3 km from the Indo-Pak border, Balkar, who was lodged in Amritsar jail in a drug case, was into smuggling drugs and weapons through drones, along with his accomplices, said police.

The police secured his custody on production warrant on Thursday for his custodial interrogation in the case.

The arrests and seizures were made nearly four months after the emergence of the novel modus operandi of smuggling weapons and drugs from Pakistan using drones, after the discovery of two crash-landed unmanned areal vehicles in a border village in Amritsar district and other in a Karnal village in Haryana in September and August 2019 respectively.

One of the drones, recovered from a paddy field in Mohawa village of Amritsar district in September was found to be a GPS-fitted 'hexacopter drone of Chinese make, powered by six electric motors with 25 kgs of weight and payload capacity of 21 kg, enough to carry weapons and bulky consignments.

Asked whether the Border Security Force had any role in the seizure of drones and arrest, Gupta said this “narco-terror” module was entirely busted by the Punjab police.

Two members of this terror module were still absconding and efforts were on to nab them, said the DGP, adding that further investigations were underway to ascertain details about the accused's ties with terrorist outfits, radicals, drug smugglers and other anti-national elements.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the accused were involved in cross-border smuggling of drugs and weapons over drones over the past few months, he said.

Certain Pakistan based drug smugglers who were sending drugs and weapons from across the border in Pakistan had also come to notice, DGP said.

Police claimed accused Rahul was directly involved in operating drone sorties across the border for picking up heroin as well as weapons from Pakistan, along with his accomplices in India and Pakistan.

He and his accomplices were in direct contact with Pakistani smugglers, said the DGP, adding the plan was to send one of the walkie-talkie sets across the border to Pakistan to facilitate two-way communication.


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