The Punjab Police on Monday claimed to have seized 11 Arges-84 hand grenades dropped by a drone suspected to have been launched from Pakistan, engaged and shot at jointly by police and the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel close to the International border in Gurdaspur district.
The seizure came five days after police had busted a drone module with international linkages in Amritsar (Rural) district. Investigating the December 14 drone module case of Amritsar (Rural) district, the police has also arrested two Delhi-based suppliers or 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 has 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.
PP, BSF PERSONNEL FIRED AT DRONE
Revealing details of the shocking incident which took place on Saturday night (December 19), the state Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said that the 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, and BSF troops immediately fired multiple shots in an attempt to bring down the drone. At the same time, the BSF personnel alerted the Gurdaspur police about the incident, and Dorangla police station SHO 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 AK-47 and SLR rifles to bring down the drone, which soon disappeared. 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 of Dorangla police station. 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, said the DGP, adding that the drone was, however, not recovered and it is suspected that it managed to fly back into Pakistan territory after dropping the recovered payload.
TWO DELHI RESIDENTS ARRESTED IN DEC 14 DRONE MODULE CASE
Meanwhile, investigations into the December 14 drone module case have led to the arrest of Lucky Dhawan, a resident of Delhi’s Janakpuri, 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.
A raid was conducted on Dhawan’s TRD Enterprises in Janakpuri by a police party led by ASP (UT) SHO PS Gharinda, Maninder Singh, on December 19 (Saturday), said the DGP.
Dhawan’s questioning revealed that he was involved in the procurement, sale, assembly, and repair of drones and drone components without any valid government authorization or license. Four mobile phones, 13 rubber stamps and two files containing receipts were also recovered from the search of the premises.
“Lucky Dhawan further revealed that he had supplied the Quadcopter drone and the SkyDroid T10 system to Lakhbir Singh without any formal documentation or billing, as required under government instructions. Lakhbir Singh had also prepared a forged Aadhar Card in the name of Arshdeep Singh to fraudulently procure the drone,” said the DGP.
“After Dhawan further revealed that the drone supplied to Lakhbir Singh was assembled by one Baldev Singh, a resident of Delhi’s Meharganj area, the police party of Gharinda police station raided his premises from where Baldev Singh was arrested. Workshop’s search led to the recovery of four drones and drone hardware — 1 450 Quadcopter drone, one DJI Phantom drone, two DJI 249 Mavic Mini Drones, one video transmitter system, one 650 Quadcopter drone repair kit and one mobile phone,” said Gupta.
DRONES PROCURED, SOLD IN VIOLATION OF DGCA NORMS
Baldev disclosed that he had procured various drone components from different sources, including e-commerce sites such as Amazon and IndiaMart. “He 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,” said the DGP.
DGP said that Baldev Singh did not possess any valid government authorization 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, the DGP added.
“Apart from violations of DGCA regulations, Baldev Singh also violated provisions of technical requirements to be maintained by the manufacturers as the drone was locally assembled. DGCA regulations mandate that the purchased drones are to be registered with the DGCA and a Unique Identification Number (UIN) is to be applied for and obtained. This was not done by Lakhbir Singh and Bachittar Singh. Hence, the drone could not be monitored by any government agency,” he said.
Further, four Ajnala-based smugglers, who were in contact with Lakhbir Singh from inside Amritsar Jail — Harjit Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Simranjit Singh, and Surjit Masih — have also been nominated and arrested in the case. Four mobile phones have been recovered from their possession by the authorities of Amritsar Jail, on the basis of intimation by the Amritsar (Rural) Police.
ARRESTED IN TOUCH WITH PAK-BASED ENTITIES
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.
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.