We confronted Pakistan on ceasefire violation, gave befitting response: BSF DG
BSG DG said that 90 drones sent to the Indian side by Pakistan to drop weapons meant for terror activities were shot down
Pakistan Rangers did not have definite answers and gave excuses when confronted on violating the ceasefire agreement in Samba on November 9, in which a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan was killed, BSF director general (DG) Nitin Agarwal said on Thursday.
Addressing a BSF press conference in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand on Thursday, he said, “The jury is still out on why they violated the ceasefire. When we raised the issue with them (Pak Rangers) during a flag meeting, they did not have answers and gave excuses.”
Agarwal said a befitting response was given to the unprovoked firing resulting in casualties on the Pakistani side.
“We gave a befitting reply to the unprovoked firing and there were casualties on the Pakistani side. I want to assure you that the border is completely secure,” he said.
A BSF jawan, head constable Lal Fam Kima, was killed after Pakistan Rangers opened unprovoked firing from automatic weapons along the International Border (IB) in the Ramgarh sector of Samba district on November 9. This was the third major ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Ranger, since October 17. Overall, Pakistani forces have violated the ceasefire at least four times this year.
Officials who did not want to be named said at least seven Pak Rangers personnel were killed in retaliatory firing by BSF following the violation on November 9.
The decision to recommit to the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan was taken after a meeting between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan on February 24-25, 2021.
In 2021, 72 such cross-border firing incidents were recorded at the international border and Line of Control (LoC), but most were before the two sides agreed to hold the ceasefire.
Prior to this, incidents of cross-border firing on patrolling troops, villagers, the Indian army and BSF forward posts were recorded every year in thousands. In 2020, close to 5,133 incidents of ceasefire violations– the highest since 2003, while 3,479 violations were registered in 2019 when the Indian government revoked Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 370 somewhat gave special status to the erstwhile state, bifurcated into two union territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
On the drone menace at the western border, the BSG DG said that a whopping 90 drones sent to the Indian side by Pakistan to drop weapons, ammunition, narcotics, explosives and cash meant for terror activities were shot down by the BSF between November 2022 and October this year.
81 of these were shot down in Punjab alone, while nine were recovered in Rajasthan. During this period, 895 kg of drugs, 44 weapons, including automatic rifles and 634 ammunition were seized, the majority of which were sent using drones.
A large number of drones seized after being shot down or jammed using anti-drone technology were found to be procured from China, Agrawal said, adding that drone intrusions from the Pakistan side of the border have increased significantly.
Overall, a senior BSF officer, who declined to be named, said there were a whopping 450 drone sightings crossing the border in the past year.
In 2022, there were a total of 300 drone intrusions recorded at the border while 22 such unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were shot down or recovered. In 2021, 97 drone intrusion incidents were recorded while only one was recovered.
“A large quantity of arms and drugs etc are being smuggled to India from Pakistan using drones. But we are using different technologies to deal with the menace. We have deployed some hand-held static and vehicle-mounted anti-drone systems to counter the increasing threat of drones on the Indo-Pak border. As a result, several drones have been shot down at the western border,” Agrawal added.
On the types of drones available to smugglers and terrorists in Pakistan, Agrawal said, “The forensic analysis of recovered drones reveals they are capable of dropping payloads. The drones are of different sizes and capabilities; and are mostly Chinese made”.
A senior BSF officer who declined to be named, said “The drones which can carry payloads up to 25-30 kgs, spying by taking videos and clicking high definition photos are being sent”.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is also investigating about a dozen cases related to the use of drones for smuggling of weapons such as pistols, revolvers, explosives like RDX, readymade tiffin Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) AK-47 rifles, detonators, grenades, drugs and cash in Punjab as well as Jammu and Kashmir since 2021.
Its probe has revealed that Pakistani spy agency the Inter-Services Intelligence, Kashmir-based terror outfits and pro-Khalistan elements (PKEs) have stepped up the use of drones in the last couple of years.
The low-cost drones are procured from China and assembled in Pakistan, said an NIA officer.
Outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), The Resistance Front (TRF) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) have trained their cadres in using drones as it gives them the advantage of sending consignments to sleeper cells/overground workers (OGWs) without being caught.