Five days after they busted a drone module with international linkages in Amritsar (Rural) district, the Punjab Police on Sunday seized 11 Arges-84 hand grenades dropped on the night of December 19 by a drone launched from Pakistan, which was engaged and shot at jointly by police and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel close to the border in Gurdaspur district.
The shocking seizures came even as a police team, investigating the December 14 drone module case of Amritsar (Rural) district, arrested two Delhi-based suppliers/assemblers of drones, taking the total number of arrests in the case to eight, including the four jailed smugglers who were found connected with the case. Four drones, one partially constructed drone, video transmitter system, drone hardware and other crucial evidence has been recovered in the case, in which investigations so far have revealed key linkages between Pakistan-based entities who were actively involved in the latest drone module as well as the earlier two modules. Further technical analysis and investigation is being conducted to unravel the nexus of the accused with Pakistan-based smugglers, including their links with militant outfits.
Revealing details of the shocking incident which took place on Saturday night, DGP Dinkar Gupta said the Punjab Police mounted a search operation immediately after receiving information from the BSF about drone movement across the Indo-Pak border in Gurdaspur district. BSF personnel deployed at BOP Chakri in Gurdaspur sector had noticed a Pak drone entering Indian territory around 11:30 pm, and BSF troops immediately fired multiple shots in an attempt to bring down the drone.
At the same time, the BSF personnel alerted the Gurdaspur police about the incident, and SHO PS Dorangla immediately reached the area and deployed cops to engage the drone. On hearing the buzzing sound of the drone, the police personnel also fired multiple shots from AK47 and SLR Rifles to bring down the drone, which soon disappeared.
A search and combing operation was mounted in the area on Sunday morning, leading to the recovery of a plastic box containing 11 Arges-84 Hand grenades from near Dhussi Bandh, in the area of Salach village, PS Dorangla. The box of hand grenades had been attached with a wooden frame and lowered from the drone to the ground with a nylon rope. Austrian in nature, the Arges Type HG 84 series anti-personnel fragmentation hand grenade, is a conventional hand grenade system designed to inflict massive damage against soft targets within its blast radius, spraying shrapnel out to a distance of 30 meters at speed, said the DGP, adding that the drone was however not recovered and it is suspected that it managed to fly back into Pakistan territory after dropping the recovered payload.
A case FIR no.159 dated 20/12/20 under sections 3, 4, 5 of the Explosive Substances Act has been registered at PS Dorangla, district Gurdaspur, and further investigations are in progress, said Gupta.
Meanwhile, investigations into the December 14 drone module case have led to the arrest of Lucky Dhawan, s/o Tilak Raj Dhawan r/o BB 28D, Dairy Sabzi Mandi, Janakpuri, Delhi, from whom the prime arrested accused, Lakhbir Singh had bought the quadcopter drone along with the SkyDroid T10 2.4GHz 10CH FHSS Transmitter with mini receiver and camera support. A raid was conducted on Dhawan’s TRD Enterprises, BB – 28D, Janakpuri, New Delhi, by a police party led by ASP (UT) SHO PS Gharinda, Maninder Singh, on 19th December, disclosed the DGP.
Dhawan’s questioning revealed that he was involved in the procurement, sale, assembly and repair of drones and drone components without any valid government authorization or license. Four mobile phones, 13 rubber stamps and 2 files containing receipts were also recovered from the search of the premises.
Lucky Dhawan further revealed that he had supplied the Quadcopter drone and the SkyDroid T10 system to Lakhbir Singh without any formal documentation or billing, as required under government instructions. Lakhbir Singh had also prepared a forged Adhar Card in the name of a man named Arshdeep Singh to fraudulently procure the drone. The forged and fabricated Adhar Card have also been electronically recovered from seized from the mobile phone of Lucky Dhawan. He has been charged under sections 465, 467, 468, 471, 473, 420 Indian Penal Code.
Lucky Dhawan further revealed that the drone supplied to Lakhbir Singh was assembled by one Baldev Singh s/o Harinder Singh r/o A – 62, 3rd Floor, Meharganj, Delhi. Subsequently, the police party of PS Gharinda raided the premises of Baldev Singh at Meharganj, from where he was arrested. Search of the workshop further led to the recovery of 4 drones and drone hardware – 1 450 Quadcopter drone, 1 DJI Phantom drone, 2 DJI 249 Mavic Mini Drones, 1 video transmitter system, 1 650 Quadcopter drone repair kit and 1 mobile phone, according to Dinkar Gupta.
Baldev Singh disclosed that he had procured the various drone components from different sources, including e–commerce sites such as Amazon and IndiaMart. He had then used his premises as a workshop to repair and assemble the drones, as well as to purchase and then sell drones at differential prices to earn profits. All such procurement and sale transactions were made without proper billing and transaction documentation, as is prescribed by the DGCA norms. Baldev Singh does not possess any valid government authorization to conduct the business of purchase and sale of drones and drone components, as was the case with Lucky Dhawan, the owner of TRD Enterprises, the DGP added.
According to Gupta, apart from violations of the above mentioned DGCA regulations, Baldev Singh had also violated the provisions of technical requirements to be maintained by the manufacturers as the drone was locally assembled. DGCA regulations mandate that the purchased drones are to be registered with the DGCA and a Unique Identification Number (UIN) is to be applied for and obtained. This was not done by Lakhbir Singh and Bachittar Singh. Hence, the drone could not be monitored by any government agency.
Both the accused, Lucky Dhawan and Baldev Singh, have been charged under sections 10, 11, 12 Aircraft Act, Sections 336, 287 IPC in the FIR no. 202, PS Gharinda registered on 14th December in the drone module case.
Lakhbir Singh has also revealed that he was involved in the fraudulent purchase of second hand vehicles from Bhikiwind, Tarn Taran, and used to tamper with their chassis number and prepare forged documents to sell the tampered vehicles at a profit. One white Scorpio with number HR35M 3709 and one black Scorpio with number PB10FX 5996 and one white Swift with number HR29AM 6672 have also been recovered following disclosures by Lakhbir Singh.
Further, four Ajnala based smugglers who were in contact with Lakhbir Singh from inside Amritsar Jail have also been nominated and arrested in the case. Four mobile phones have been recovered from their possession by the authorities of Amritsar Jail, on the basis of intimation by the Amritsar (Rural) Police.
Further investigations have revealed the names of three key Pakistan based entities – Chishti, Malik and Maqsood, who were in contact with the arrested accused. Chishti was also in close contact with the accused arrested in the Akashdeep drone module case busted by Punjab Police in September 2019. Further, Malik was in contact with the accused Ajaypal Singh, arrested in the drone module busted by Punjab Police in January 2020.
The recovered documentation and files from the office of TRD Enterprises in Janakpuri, Delhi are being thoroughly examined to trace the supplies and purchases of drones and drone hardware to Punjab and other states, and assess other possible violations of the DGCA regulations and the Aircraft Act, as well as to identify other possible illegally procured drones in the border State.