By Jaideep Sarin
Amritsar, Jan 2: Using PVC pipes, digging through the earth or just throwing consignments over the barbed wire fence are some of the methods used by smugglers from Pakistan to push heroin consignments into India.
Since an electrified barbed wire fence, 300 metres to 800 metres inside Indian territory, runs along the entire 553-km-long international border with Pakistan in Punjab, the drug runners adopt various methods to smuggle heroin consignments. These include pushing smaller packets of heroin by putting PVC pipes across the barbed wire fence, throwing packets over the fence or digging the packets in agricultural fields across the fence (but in Indian territory) which are later dug out by farmers who cultivate their land across the fence, a BSF officer said.
Alert Border Security Force (BSF) troopers maintain a 24×7 vigil along the border.
In 2015, the BSF seized nearly 345 kg of heroin, the second highest in the area and worth some Rs.1,725 crore ($26 million) in the international market.
The latest action by the BSF was on the night of Dec 20 when 22 kg of heroin worth Rs.110 crore was seized.
The BSF had, in 2014, made its highest-ever seizure of over 361 kg of heroin in the Punjab sector, comprising the frontier districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Fazilka, where the heroin is brought via the Afghanistan-Pakistan route.
“It is not easy for our troopers who have to keep a strict vigil at the international border to also keep a close watch on activities of smugglers. Most of the smuggling activity takes place late in the night and our troops have to work in trying conditions, including darkness and weather,” a BSF commandant in the Amritsar sector told media persons.
“Our troopers have to brave extremes in climate – from sub-zero temperatures and dense fog during winter to the highs of over 45 degrees Celsius during the dusty summer. But they do all this very professionally and the the heightened vigil is reflected in the rise in seizures,” he pointed out.
BSF officers along the border told Sarin that smugglers from the Pakistan side take advantage of the standing crops, night darkness and climatic conditions like dense fog.
As per BSF officials and records, smugglers on both sides of the border have become more active in recent years.
In 2011, the BSF had seized just 68 kg heroin in the border belt and prior to that 115 kg in 2010, 120 kg in 2009 and 100 kg in 2008.
In 2013, the BSF had made an all-time record seizure of nearly 322 kg of heroin as against 288 kg seized in 2012.
The international border in Punjab is manned by nearly 135 BSF battalions, each comprising 1,200 troopers.