Months before the suspected drone-drop of explosives at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging the “serious implications” of delivery of weapons and contraband from Pakistan via low-flying Sub-Conventional Aerial Platforms including UAVs and drones.
Top security officials in Punjab told The Indian Express that the letter detailing the threat and the need for counter-measures was sent in November before the CM met Home Minister Amit Shah and discussed the same issue.
Officials said over the last two years in Punjab, there have been between 70-80 sightings of drones – and some cases of their being shot down. After the note to the PM, high-level meetings were held between state intelligence heads, Punjab Police and Border Security Force (BSF).
In his letter, dated November 21, 2020, Singh referred to the dropping of rifles and pistols by a Chinese-made hexagonal drone in August 2019 at Hoshiarnagar, Amritsar. And to drone sightings in Ferozepur and Tarn Taran sectors the previous fortnight.
The Chief Minister warned that the delivery of long-range weapons from across the border about 5 km deep into Indian territory at a “pre-designated point, through a large sized drone is a matter of national security concern.” And has serious implications for “security of highly threatened protectees, security of public meetings/events.”
Singh asked the Prime Minister to convene a high-level meeting of different “stakeholders” to examine the drone threat and “discuss and rethink strategies” regarding installation of infrastructure such as radars which can detect the movement of these aerial platforms.
“Suitable counter-measures against the use of such drones would also need to be developed, as it is now becoming clear that Pakistan is deploying such platforms to deliver contraband from across the border,” he wrote.
Speaking to The Indian Express Monday, Dinkar Gupta, Director General of Police, Punjab, said that drone attacks and weapon-drops is a “dynamic, continuing threat.”
He said that while several meetings had taken place in the state, Central agencies, including the BSF, need to urgently draw up counter mechanisms and plan for infrastructure.
“The sighting of drones sent from across the border is a regular feature along the Punjab border,” said Gupta, “and that is why the matter was escalated to the highest levels last year. To an extent, the frequent launching of drones makes border fencing redundant.’’