Chandigarh: The security forces have recovered 11 hand grenades dropped by a drone launched from Pakistan in Salach village, located about one km from the International Border, in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, police said on Monday.
Five days after they busted a drone module with international linkages in Amritsar (Rural) district, the Punjab Police on last Sunday seized all the 11 Arges-84 hand grenades dropped on the night of December 19 by a drone launched from Pakistan, which was engaged and shot at jointly by police and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel close to the border in Gurdaspur district.
DGP Dinkar Gupta said that Punjab Police mounted a search operation immediately after receiving information from the BSF about drone movement across the Indo-Pak border in Gurdaspur district.
“BSF personnel deployed at BOP Chakri in Gurdaspur sector had noticed a Pak drone entering Indian territory around 11:30 pm on Saturday, and BSF troops immediately fired multiple shots in an attempt to bring down the drone,” Gupta said in a statement.
“At the same time, the BSF personnel alerted the Gurdaspur police about the incident, and SHO PS Dorangla immediately reached the area and deployed cops to engage the drone. On hearing the buzzing sound of the drone, the police personnel also fired multiple shots from AK47 and SLR Rifles to bring down the drone, which soon disappeared,” he added.
Gupta said that a search and combing operation was mounted in the area on Sunday morning, leading to the recovery of a plastic box containing 11 Arges-84 Hand grenades from near Dhussi Bandh, in the area of Salach village, PS Dorangla.
“The box of hand grenades had been attached with a wooden frame and lowered from the drone to the ground with a nylon rope. Austrian in nature, the Arges Type HG 84 series anti-personnel fragmentation hand grenade, is a conventional hand grenade system designed to inflict massive damage against soft targets within its blast radius, spraying shrapnel out to a distance of 30 meters at speed. The drone was, however, not recovered and it is suspected that it managed to fly back into Pakistan territory after dropping the recovered payload,” he said.
A case under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act has been registered at PS Dorangla, district Gurdaspur, and further investigations are in progress, said Gupta.
The seizures came even as a police team, investigating the December 14 drone module case of Amritsar (Rural) district, arrested two Delhi-based suppliers/assemblers of drones, taking the total number of arrests in the case to eight, including the four jailed smugglers who were found connected with the case.
“Four drones, one partially constructed drone, video transmitter system, drone hardware and other crucial evidence have been recovered in the case, in which investigations so far have revealed key linkages between Pakistan-based entities who were actively involved in the latest drone module as well as the earlier two modules. Further technical analysis and investigation is being conducted to unravel the nexus of the accused with Pakistan-based smugglers, including their links with militant outfits,” police said.
The investigations into the December 14 drone module case have led to the arrest of Lucky Dhawan of Delhi, from whom the prime arrested accused, Lakhbir Singh had bought the quadcopter drone along with the SkyDroid T10 2.4GHz 10CH FHSS Transmitter with mini receiver and camera support, police said.
A raid was conducted on Dhawan’s TRD Enterprises in Janakpuri, New Delhi, by a police party on December 19.
“Dhawan’s questioning revealed that he was involved in the procurement, sale, assembly and repair of drones and drone components without any valid government authorisation or licence. Four mobile phones, 13 rubber stamps and 2 files containing receipts were also recovered from the search of the premises,” the police said.
According to police, Lucky Dhawan further revealed that the drone supplied to Lakhbir Singh was assembled by one Baldev Singh, a resident of Meharganj, Delhi.
Subsequently, the police party of PS Gharinda raided the premises of Baldev Singh at Meharganj, from where he was arrested. Search of the workshop further led to the recovery of 4 drones and drone hardware – 1 450 Quadcopter drone, 1 DJI Phantom drone, 2 DJI 249 Mavic Mini Drones, 1 video transmitter system, 1 650 Quadcopter drone repair kit and 1 mobile phone.
“Baldev Singh disclosed that he had procured the various drone components from different sources, including e-commerce sites such as Amazon and IndiaMart. He had then used his premises as a workshop to repair and assemble the drones, as well as to purchase and then sell drones at differential prices to earn profits. All such procurement and sale transactions were made without proper billing and transaction documentation, as is prescribed by the DGCA norms. Baldev Singh does not possess any valid government authorisation to conduct the business of purchase and sale of drones and drone components, as was the case with Lucky Dhawan, the owner of TRD Enterprises,” police said.
Further investigations have revealed the names of three key Pakistan based entities, Chishti, Malik and Maqsood, who were in contact with the arrested accused.
“Chishti was also in close contact with the accused arrested in the Akashdeep drone module case busted by Punjab Police in September 2019. Further, Malik was in contact with the accused Ajaypal Singh, arrested in the drone module busted by Punjab Police in January 2020,” police stated.
The recovered documentation and files from the office of TRD Enterprises in Janakpuri, Delhi are being thoroughly examined to trace the supplies and purchases of drones and drone hardware to Punjab and other states, and assess other possible violations of the DGCA regulations and the Aircraft Act, as well as to identify other possible illegally procured drones in the border State.