An Army soldier and two others have been arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and weapons from across the Indo-Pak border using GPS-fitted drones in collusion with their Pakistani accomplices, Punjab Police said on Friday.
Punjab Police Chief Dinakar Gupta said they seized two Chinese-made drones, 12 drone batteries, some custom-made drone containers, an INSAS rifle magazine, and two walkie-talkie sets, besides Rs 6.22 lakh in cash from them.
The cash is suspected to be the sale proceed of the smuggled drugs, he said, adding that no drug, however, has been recovered from them as yet.
He said three persons including Army Naik Rahul Chauhan, were arrested, said Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta.
"Now we have come across a module in which three people were arrested and where they were launching drones from India to across the border (Pakistan) and they were to bring back drugs payloads," Mr Gupta said adding they suspected both drugs and small weapons like pistols came from the other side of the border.
Detailing about the two drones seized from smugglers, Mr Gupta said the first drone, a Quadcopter was recovered from an abandoned government dispensary in Modhe village in Amritsar (Rural).
The second one, a Hexacopter, was recovered from the house of a friend of arrested Army Naik Rahul Chauhan in Haryana's Karnal on his disclosures, Mr Gupta said.
The seized drones were GPS-fitted, he said, adding it was discovered that such drones were being used to drop weapons, hand grenades, satellite phones and fake currency notes in India.
Detailing Army Naik Rahul Chauhan's role in smuggling drugs and weapons using drones, the senior officer said he was involved in not only procuring and supplying drones but also in training the cross-border smugglers in how to use them.
Police said Rahul Chauhan, an Ambala cantonment resident, operated its to-and-fro sorties across the border for smuggling consignments of heroin and weapons from Pakistan.
The two other accused were identified as Dharminder Singh of Dhanoa Khurd village in Amritsar and Balkar Singh of Sara Amanat Khan in Amritsar.
While Dharminder was arrested from Hardo Rattan village, about 3 km from the Indo-Pak border, Balkar, who was lodged in Amritsar jail in a drug case, was into smuggling drugs and weapons through drones, along with his accomplices, said police.
The police secured his custody after producing a warrant on Thursday for his custodial interrogation in the case.
The arrests and seizures were made nearly four months after the emergence of the new modus operandi of smuggling weapons and drugs from Pakistan, after the discovery of two crash-landed drones in a boarder village in Amritsar district and other in a Karnal village in Haryana September and August 2019 respectively.
One of the drones, recovered from a paddy field in Mohawa village of Amritsar district in September was found to be a hexacopter drone of Chinese make, powered by six electric motors with 25 kgs of weight and payload capacity of 21 kg, enough to carry weapons and bulky consignments.