In a significant shift in their modus operandi, drug traffickers hailing from Pakistan have altered their strategy, opting to transport larger shipments of narcotics, ranging from 15 kilograms to a staggering 70 kilograms, into the Indian state of Punjab. This departure from their previous practice of sneaking only a few kilograms of contraband across the border has law enforcement agencies on high alert.
Most of these recent endeavors have taken place in the riverine regions along the Ravi River (in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts) and the Sutlej River (in Fazilka). Fazilka, in particular, has emerged as a hotspot due to the expansion of the Sutlej River’s span from a mere 200 meters to over 1 kilometer during this monsoon season, rendering the area increasingly difficult to patrol effectively.
The new smuggling technique involves daring smugglers swimming into Indian territory carrying hefty loads of 15 to 70 kilograms of drugs inside tubes. Once across the border, they make their drops and return to Pakistan. This method stands in stark contrast to their previous practices of throwing small packets over the International Border (IB) fencing or concealing them in fields near the zero line. The use of drones, though employed to a limited extent, necessitates multiple sorties due to their payload limitations, typically carrying up to 5 kilograms of narcotics.
Recent seizures by the police underscore the gravity of this evolving drug trade. Notorious drug kingpin Malkiat Singh Kali, apprehended by Jalandhar police, had successfully orchestrated the smuggling of 50 kilograms of heroin into India using this route, with over 31.5 kilograms of the contraband recovered. Meanwhile, on September 6, Harpreet Singh of Amritsar was arrested in possession of 15 kilograms of heroin, delivered to him from across the border by the infamous smuggler known as Happy Jatt.
The ingenious yet perilous approach of the smugglers involves the use of tractor tubes, which are cut open, filled with drug packets, and skillfully stitched back together. To ensure their safety while navigating the river, these peddlers tie empty plastic bottles to themselves to prevent drowning during the crossing.
The allure of lucrative commissions for taking on such risky endeavors tempts many peddlers, despite the severe consequences that may follow interception. Besides facing lengthy prison sentences, these individuals risk injury or worse for the promise of a few lakhs of rupees.
In a poignant example of the perils involved in smuggling larger consignments, two individuals from Pakistan, Mohd Amjad (34) and Siwana (26), were apprehended while attempting to smuggle 29 kilograms of contraband into Fazilka. Their goal was to return to Pakistan and collect Rs 3 lakhs each as a commission. Tragically, Amjad now resides in jail, while Siwana lost an arm after sustaining a bullet injury during a desperate escape attempt, resulting in the amputation of his left arm in the hospital.