Attack on IAF base in Jammu: Brief history of UAVs being sent across border with arms and ammunition
While Pakistan has been using drones for supply of arms and ammunition to terror networks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, this is the first time the system has been used to carry out an 'terror attack'
The early hours of Sunday witnessed the first-of-its-kind attack on any defence establishment in India with two low intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs) being dropped by two drones on an Air Force base in Jammu.
But India shouldn't be surprised.
Because Pakistan has been using drones for supply of arms and ammunition to terror networks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
And intelligence sources have for long warned that there have been multiple attempts by both the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba — both groups are considered prime suspects in this attack, as per News18 — to adapt commercially available drones as platforms for IEDs, but they have not been able to overcome problems with guidance systems and payloads.
Let's look at a brief history of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) trying to push in arms and ammunition from across the border:
Mohawa village in Amritsar, August 2019
In August 2019, an anonymous caller tipped off the Amritsar (rural) police of a 'fan-like gadget' lying in a paddy field in Mohawa village of the district.
The police had stepped up its vigil at the border after the recovery of a crashed 'Hexacopter Drone' on 13 August from the village in Amritsar district.
It was, as Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said in a tweet, "a new and serious dimension on Pakistan's sinister designs in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370."
The drone was recovered based on the information given by one of the four people the Punjab Police had arrested who were allegedly part of a terror module of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF).
DSP Balbir Singh of the counter-intelligence wing in Amritsar had said that a police team took one of the accused — Akashdeep to Mohawa village, where the drone was hidden by him. "The accused during the interrogation revealed that he had hidden the drone in Mohawa village near Attari border, after it couldn't fly back to Pakistan as it developed a snag. The drone was recovered under the bushes on the defence drain near the village," he had said.
Another drone recovered near Indo-Pak border in Amritsar, September 2019
With the recovery of a second drone a month later in Tarn Taran district, the Punjab police pieced together a plan by the Pakistan-based Khalistan Zindabad Force to infiltrate weapons from across the international border.
"Police teams are also on the job to ascertain the links of the terror groups involved in sending these drones from Pakistan," read a government press statement, adding "that so far only two such drones had been recovered — one last month and the second in a burnt condition three days ago in Jhabal town in Tarn Taran district."
The statement, meanwhile, said that investigations so far suggested that several Pakistan-based terrorist groups were engaged in smuggling weapons into India since August, post the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and both the recovered drones were apparently sent by different terror groups, linked with the Pak ISI, and the State-sponsored Jihadi and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits working under its command.
Drone shot down by BSF along IB in Kathua district, June 2020
On 20 June, a Pakistani spy drone was shot down by the Border Security Force (BSF) in Hirangar sector of Kathua district. The drone was recovered carrying several weapons.
This was the first such incident in Jammu region when a drone carrying arms and explosives was shot down by the BSF, foiling Pakistan's attempt to smuggle the weapons into the Union Territory using the flying machine.
The 8x8 drone (from blade to blade) was spotted hovering in the skies by a BSF party on patrol duty at Rathua village in the vicinity of Border Out Post (BOP) Pansar around 5.10 am, the officials had said.
They said the BSF personnel fired nine rounds and shot it down 250 metres inside the Indian territory.
A highly sophisticated rifle, two magazines, 60 rounds and seven grenades were the payload on the drone meant to be delivered to Pakistani agents, the officials said quoting preliminary information.
Drone-dropped arms found in Akhnoor sector, September 2020
On 21 September 2o20, security forces intercepted drone-dropped arms at Sohal Khad, close to the Line of Control (LoC), in the Akhnoor sub-division of Jammu district.
According to official sources, a team of the J&K Police and special forces troops of the Army launched an operation in border areas of Sohal Khad, Shamshan Ghat, Punnu Chowk, Sohal Market and found two consignments of arms and ammunition.
Based on specific inputs that some weapons were airdropped by a Pakistani drone, the Jammu and Kashmir Police seized two AK assault rifles, one pistol, three AK magazines and 90 rounds of ammunition from Sohal Khad, located at an aerial distance of 13 km from the border.
Earlier on 19 September, security agencies had arrested three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants from Rajouri district and recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from their possession. These were dropped by from across the LoC in Rajouri district.
With inputs from agencies
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