Punjab police have launched an emergency response system with drones in the border district of Pathankot to thwart attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons across the border using drones, officials said.

Under the Drone Emergency Response System, the police will coordinate with defense committees at the village level in areas along the Indo-Pakistan border to respond faster to cases of smuggling of drugs, weapons and ammunition from the neighboring country.

According to the officials, the frequent movements of the drones to smuggle drugs and weapons across the border poses a challenge to the security services in Punjab.

They said that hardly a day goes by when the movement of drones is not detected in the border areas of Punjab even though the BSF has shot down several drones and seized bundles of heroin in the recent past.

In the past few weeks, the Frontier Corps force has shot down several drones in Punjab, which shares a 553 km border with Pakistan.

Last week, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit targeted Pakistan for pushing drugs into India and said surgical strikes should be launched against the neighboring country to teach it a lesson.

During his two-day visit to the border areas, Purohit also praised the Punjab Police and district administrations for putting in a lot of efforts on drug confiscation, border security and tackling the issue of drones.

Pachankot Chief Inspector of Police Harkamal Preet Singh Khakh said the Unmanned Emergency Response System (DERS) is being implemented on a trial basis in Pathankot and will be replicated in other border areas of the state.

DERS has been implemented in 14 villages in Pathankot which are 2 km from the international border.

He said that two village police officers were stationed in each of the 14 villages. Village Police Officers (VPOs) are local residents and will work alongside Village Level Defense Committees (VLDCs) to monitor any suspicious movement in their villages.

He said that whenever any movement of a drone is noticed in a village, the VPO will activate the VLDC and will also report to the police control room.

Police said that till the time the police team reaches the location, the VPO along with the VLDC will cordon off the area where any contraband or weapon was dropped by a Pakistani drone to prevent it from being recovered by any criminal or smuggler.

Police said the initial response would be launched without any delay, followed by a secondary response within a period of five to 10 minutes, and a third response within 15 to 20 minutes, resulting in the swift arrest of individuals involved in illegal activity.

LLDCs have been set up in the border areas of Punjab to monitor suspicious movement.

Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Himanshu Ajwal said the 11-member Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) were established in 265 villages located 15 km from the international border.

Agarwal said the VLDC members are basically village chiefs, ex-soldiers or influential people and if they see any suspicious activity, they report it to the concerned authority.

WhatsApp groups of VLDCs were formed to exchange information and a joint command and control center was set up in the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

“We are motivating them (VLDC members) to be defenders of their villages,” said Agarwal.

The Governor of Punjab has commended the Gurdaspur district administration for setting up VLDCs in villages at a distance of 15 km from the international border.

“94 cameras have been installed throughout the region, especially in border areas, and the live broadcasts of these cameras are being monitored jointly by police and civil officials,” said the deputy commissioner.

He said that 30 panchayats in Gurdaspur have already issued resolutions that they will not allow any drug activity in their villages and will make their villages completely drug-free in the next six months.

Last month, Punjab Police announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information on the movement of drones which led to the recovery of weapons and drugs.

The state government has sanctioned Rs 20 crore for installing CCTV cameras at strategic locations in border villages to maintain a strict vigil on the movement of drones and smugglers across the border.

(This story was not edited by the News18 staff and was published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)


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