Border security forces in India are struggling with a growing “drone menace” as narcotics-carrying drones penetrate the border with Pakistan, intensifying the drug issue in Punjab and raising serious security concerns. The rise in drone usage by drug cartels can be linked to their rapid technological advancements, making it increasingly difficult for border security personnel to intercept and track these unmanned vehicles. As a countermeasure, the Indian government is investing in state-of-the-art surveillance systems and enlisting the help of various technology companies to develop anti-drone solutions to secure their border and protect the interests of the Indian people.
Record high capture of drones from Pakistan
In 2023, India’s border security force (BSF) has captured 90 drones coming from Pakistan, which is an all-time high, and the number keeps increasing. Most of the drones carry opium and heroin shipments, probably originating from Afghanistan, while others transport weapons like pistols and assault rifles made in China. This surge in drone activity presents a significant challenge for India’s border security agencies, as it highlights the increasing use of advanced technology by smugglers and potentially adversarial groups.
New countermeasures implemented by BSF
In response, the BSF is implementing new countermeasures like installing anti-drone systems and increasing intelligence sharing with neighboring countries to more effectively combat this emerging threat. These large hexacopters, some up to 8ft wide and fitted with high-resolution cameras, have been discovered as deep as 12km inside India’s border. Drugs are often carried in small bags or Coca-Cola bottles.
Role of technology in illegal activities
The presence of these drones near the border raises concerns about the role of technology in facilitating illegal activities, particularly drug smuggling. Authorities have been stepping up their efforts to monitor and intercept such incursions to ensure safety and prevent further distribution of narcotics. The continuous influx of drones from Pakistan, utilizing more sophisticated technology, poses a significant security threat given the two nuclear-armed adversaries’ enduring hostility.
Potential for conflict escalation
These advanced drones are capable of carrying out surveillance and, in some cases, armed attacks, heightening the potential for conflict escalation between the two nations. To mitigate this growing security risk, both India and Pakistan must come together to implement strict regulations and cooperative strategies to prevent any unintentional dangerous encounters involving drones.
Importance of watchfulness and collaboration
Atul Fulzele, the inspector general of BSF in Punjab, recognized that unauthorized entries into India present a security challenge and emphasized the importance of being watchful. In light of this situation, he highlighted the need for technological advancements and increased collaboration among security agencies to tackle these unauthorized entries effectively. Additionally, Fulzele urged citizens and local communities to play an active role in reporting any suspicious activities, ensuring a comprehensive approach to safeguarding the nation’s borders.
Adapting to drone-based drug smuggling
Smuggling between India and Pakistan has continued for decades through various methods. However, since the first drone sighting in Punjab in 2019, the BSF has identified drones as the main mode of drug trafficking from Pakistan. The use of drones has made it more challenging for security forces to detect and intercept these illegal activities, as the aerial vehicles can bypass conventional checkpoints and security measures.
New strategies and technologies implemented by BSF
To combat this evolving threat, the Border Security Force (BSF) is implementing new strategies and technologies, such as drone detection systems and increased surveillance, aimed at enhancing their ability to intercept drug smuggling operations. In 2023, drones accounted for around 60% of drug smuggling in Punjab, significantly increasing trade and introducing a new aspect to the defense of India’s border security.
Government response to drone-based drug smuggling
This rapid surge in drone-based drug smuggling posed new challenges for law enforcement and border patrol agencies, who had to quickly adapt their strategies and adopt advanced technology. In response, the government initiated cross-agency collaboration, investing in cutting-edge counter-drone systems, and increased aerial surveillance, all to combat this emerging threat and protect the nation from the dangers of widespread drug trafficking.
Increased drone availability and the need for regulation
As drone technology becomes more affordable and available, the issue continues to expand. The majority of confiscated drones are made in China. This widespread production of affordable drones from China has resulted in increased ownership among hobbyists and professionals alike, leading to a greater need for regulation and safety measures. Governments and aviation authorities worldwide have been compelled to establish clearer guidelines and rules for drone usage in order to prevent potential hazards and ensure the protection of both individuals and properties.
Challenges faced by BSF in combating drone infiltrations
Despite the BSF implementing several strategies to combat drone infiltrations, such as shooting down drones, using anti-drone technology, and relying on informants, they face increasingly advanced technology. As creators of these devices continually develop more sophisticated and stealthy designs, the challenge for the BSF to detect and neutralize these threats intensifies. Consequently, enhancing their tactics and investing in cutting-edge tools becomes vital to effectively safeguard their borders in the face of evolving drone capabilities.
First Reported on: theguardian.com
What is the major concern with narcotics-carrying drones?
These drones infiltrate the Indian border with Pakistan, intensifying the drug issue in Punjab and raising serious security concerns. Border security forces struggle to intercept and track them due to the rapid technological advancements in drone technology.
What countermeasures have been implemented by India’s Border Security Force (BSF)?
The BSF is implementing new strategies like installing anti-drone systems, increasing surveillance measures, and intelligence sharing with neighboring countries to more effectively combat the emerging threat of drug-carrying drones.
What role does technology play in illegal activities near the India-Pakistan border?
Technology, particularly drone technology, facilitates illegal activities like drug smuggling, making it more challenging for authorities to monitor and intercept these incursions. The increasing use of advanced technology by smugglers presents a significant security threat.
How can India and Pakistan prevent the escalation of conflict due to drone activities?
Both nations must come together to implement strict regulations and cooperative strategies, ensuring that any unintentional dangerous encounters involving drones are prevented and mitigated in the long run.
Are drones the primary mode of drug trafficking between India and Pakistan?
Since the first drone sighting in Punjab in 2019, the BSF has identified drones as the main mode of drug trafficking from Pakistan. Drone use has made it difficult for security forces to detect and intercept illegal activities, as they can bypass traditional checkpoints and security measures.
What new technologies are being implemented by the BSF to enhance their abilities?
The BSF is implementing technologies such as drone detection systems and increased surveillance to strengthen their ability to intercept drug smuggling operations and protect India’s border security.
What is the government response to the drone-based drug smuggling issue?
Due to the rapid surge in drone-based drug smuggling, governments have initiated cross-agency collaboration, investing in cutting-edge counter-drone systems, and increased aerial surveillance to combat this emerging threat and protect nations from drug trafficking dangers.
Why has drone availability increased and what is the need for regulation?
Drone technology has become more affordable and available, primarily due to widespread production from China. This increased ownership among hobbyists and professionals has led to a greater need for regulation and safety measures, prompting governments and aviation authorities to establish clearer guidelines and rules for drone usage.
What challenges does the BSF face in combating drone infiltrations?
The BSF faces the challenge of keeping up with increasingly advanced drone technologies. As drone creators develop more sophisticated and stealthy designs, this intensifies the difficulty for the BSF to detect and neutralize these threats, requiring them to constantly enhance their tactics and invest in cutting-edge tools.