No fly zone for Drones in Punjab border belt

No fly zone for Drones in Punjab border belt

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. (PTI Photo)

Display boards prohibiting the use of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Punjab’s border zones have been put up in wake of the reoccurring threat and multiple incidents of drone sorties into Punjab from across Pakistan. A belt of 25-km from the Indo-Pak border in Punjab is now being monitored as a no-fly zone for drones.

Instructions have been issued to shoot down drones at sight. Drones commonly used for wedding ceremonies, amusement and pre-wedding shoots in this border zone too will not be allowed. In recent months, drones have presented a new security challenge to man the 553-km Punjab border belt with Pakistan.

Seizures by the Border Security Force (BSF) manning the border and the state police over the last six months have revealed that unmanned flying vehicles were used to drop weapons, currency, payload and drugs inside Punjab. Over the last two days, multiple drone sorties have been detected on the Punjab border. In certain areas, the BSF personnel had to resort to firing to gun down these drones flying from across Pakistan. Restrictions on flying of drones within a given length from the border zone were earlier issued by the Director-General Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Punjab has been on high alert ever since weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition, were other payload was dropped using drones from Pakistan. Recent disclosures by the suspects arrested in such cases have revealed that some of these drones were purchased through online retail portal OLX.

The connivance of locals active as part of the terror module being pushed by Pakistan is also concerning. A few days ago, the Punjab police seized two highly sophisticated Chinese-made drones and arrested an Army soldier, a Naik, and two smugglers belonging to a narco-terror module, involved in smuggling of weapons and narcotics from across the border.
Drone batteries, custom-made drone containers, two walkie talkie sets, lakhs of rupees in cash and a magazine of an INSAS rifle were dropped by these Chinese-made drones into Punjab. These confiscated drones were equipped with carrying heavy payloads and would fly 2-3 km on either side of the border.

Post the abrogation of Article 370, the drone activity on the Punjab border with Pakistan has increased. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also raised the issue with the central government seeking close monitoring by central agencies and forces.

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