The Indian security forces have seized 11 hand grenades in Punjab's Gurdaspur district. These are touted to have been dropped by a drone from Pakistan's side of the border, said a senior police official on Monday.
The consignment of Arges Type HG-84 series grenades was packed in a plastic box, and is said to have been manufactured by a munition factory in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Police search teams retrieved the consignment of 11 grenades on Sunday morning. Border Security Force (BSF) personnel at the Chakri border in Gurdaspur had spotted a drone crossing the border a little before Saturday midnight. While their attempt to fire at the drone to bring it down did not work, BSF intimated the Punjab Police about the same.
According to a senior police official, the grenades were found attached to a wooden frame in Salach village of Gurdaspur's Dorangla area. The consignment had not been dropped, but rather lowered down from the drone via a nylon rope, he added.
This marks the eighth seizure of smuggled artillery and military equipment in India in the last 15 months, said the officer.
The Arges HG-84 is an anti-personnel fragmentation grenade, which launches shrapnel at about a 30-metre radius, damaging soft targets in its path. The Austrian-manufactured grenades have been previously used in major attacks in India, including the Mumbai attacks of 1993 and 2008, as well as the 2001 Parliament attack.
Weeks back, intelligence agencies in India had warned security personnel about Pakistan acquiring upgraded drones from China. According to the reports, the upgraded iterations of the drones purchased by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) can carry firearms in large quantities.
The first case of drone-smuggling of weapons by Pakistan dates back to 19 August 2019 when security personnel in Punjab spotted a large four-rotor drone dropping a weapon consignment. The package retrieved weighed 10 kilograms and had AK 47 rifles, MP9 rifle, pistols, as well as fake Indian currency. The drone was retrieved as well, owing to its crash in Indian territory after it ran out of batteries.
"Lately, the drones have been getting bigger and more powerful, triggering concerns that these could not only be used to carry larger quantities of arms but also rain explosives at security camps in border areas," a counter-terror official from Delhi said, indicating that the drone-trafficking of munition could well have been going on for much longer.
(with inputs from PTI)