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Punjab police bust narco-terror module

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Punjab had recently seen drone activity along the border, which first came to light in August 2019

The Punjab police on Friday seized two highly sophisticated Chinese-made drones, and arrested an Army Naik and two smugglers, allegedly a part of a narco-terror module, involved in smuggling of weapons and narcotics across the Indo-Pakistan border.

Punjab’s Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta told a press conference that the seizure also included drone batteries, custom-made drone containers, two walkie talkie sets, ₹6.22 lakh in cash, believed to be proceeds of drugs, and the magazine of an INSAS rifle.

“The drones, capable of travelling 2-3 km on either side of the border, were reportedly being launched from the Indian side to fly into Pakistan to pick up payloads of narcotics. They had apparently already conducted 4-5 sorties,” he said.

Punjab had recently seen drone activity along the border, which first came to light in August 2019.

Mr. Gupta said this was the first instance to show that drones were being used to smuggle narcotics, even though no drugs had been recovered. According to the DGP, the module members had revealed that they were involved in cross-border smuggling of drugs and weapons through drones over the past few months.

“Certain Pakistan-based drug smugglers who were sending the drugs and weapons from across the border in Pakistan had also come to notice,” he added.

Mr. Gupta said the three arrested persons had been identified as Dharminder Singh of Dhanoa Khurd village in Amritsar; Rahul Chauhan of Pooja Vihar at Ambala Cantt., in Haryana and Balkar Singh of Sarai Amanat Khan in Amritsar (Rural).

“While Dharminder was arrested from a place in village Hardo Rattan, about 3 km from the Indo-Pakistan border, Balkar had been lodged in Amritsar jail in an NDPS case and was brought on production warrant on Thursday. Rahul Chauhan, a Naik of the Armed Forces, was reportedly involved in procuring and supplying drones and training to cross-border smugglers,” he said.

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

Mr. Gupta said preliminary investigations had confirmed that Rahul Chauhan was directly involved in operating drone sorties across the border for picking up heroin as well as weapons from Pakistan, along with his associates in India and Pakistan. He and his accomplices were in direct contact with Pakistani smugglers on encrypted OTT platforms, said the DGP, adding that the plan was to send one of the walkie talkie sets across the border to Pakistan to facilitate two-way communication.

“The first drone, a Chinese-made DJI INSPIRE 2 drone (quadcopter) was recovered from an abandoned government dispensary building in Modhe village in Amritsar (Rural), where it had been hidden by Dharminder Singh and his associate drug smugglers. The second drone, a Chinese-made DJI MATRICE 600 PRO (hexacopter), was recovered from a house in Karan Vihar, Sector-6, Karnal (Haryana) on the disclosures of Rahul Chauhan. The house belongs to a friend of Rahul Chauhan,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 11:04:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-police-bust-narco-terror-module/article30538283.ece

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