Chandigarh: Heroin seizures by border troops in Punjab have hit an all-time high. The BSF has recorded its highest seizure of drugs in recent years along the India-Pakistan international border. In just over 10 months, the BSF has seized over 328.6 kg of heroin valued at Rs.1,650 crore (about $270 million) in the international market.
The seizure, till Nov 3, is even higher than the previous all-time high of 322 kg recovered in 2013 along the barbed wire fenced 553-km international border between India and Pakistan. A total of 44 kg heroin has been seized in the first three days of this month alone.
In 2012, the Border Security Force had recovered a record 288 kg heroin in the Punjab sector, comprising the frontier districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Fazilka.
"The high seizure of heroin along the international border is owing to the troops being extra vigilant," BSF's Jalandhar-based Punjab frontier Inspector General Ashok Kumar told IANS.
With nearly two more months to go before the end of this year, the heroin seizures are likely to go up further.
BSF officers along the border say that while the bigger seizures are the result of strict vigil along the border, it also shows that heroin smugglers in Pakistan and India have become more active in the last three years.
The seizure of heroin made by the BSF in 2011 was just 68 kg. The seizure was 115 kg in 2010, 120 kg in 2009 and 100 kg in 2008, officials said. The drug network operates along the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India route.
"Keeping in view the vulnerability of the border from smuggling point of view, especially in view of paddy crops and adverse weather conditions which give cover to these anti-national elements, we have issued operational guidelines to further strengthen border domination to effectively check the menace of narcotics smuggling," Ashok Kumar said.
The seizure of poppy husk and fake Indian currency notes (FICN) from the Pakistan side has, however, gone down this year.
Compared to over 246 kg poppy husk and FICN of face value over Rs.52 lakh, the seizures this year has been only 25 kg and nearly Rs.12 lakh this year. In 2012, just 5.5 kg poppy husk was recovered.
BSF troopers have killed three Pakistani and Indian smugglers each in exchange of fire near the international border this year. Eleven Indian smugglers have been arrested by the BSF this year.
BSF troopers, including women, who man the border belt 24x7, say they have to deal with weather extremes and inhospitable terrain to contain smuggling. The international border in Punjab is manned by nearly 135 BSF battalions.
"In winters, our troops have to man the border in sub-zero temperatures and a thick blanket of fog. Even technology does not help much in these conditions. They have to rely on their personal instincts to monitor any movement along the border. It is a tough job," an operational commander of the BSF told IANS in Amritsar sector.
Smugglers from Pakistan use plastic pipes to push heroin packets across the electrified fence, bury them in fields or just throw the wrapped packets across. Their Indian counterparts later pick these up on the Indian side. The connivance of Pakistan border guards, Pakistan Rangers, with the smugglers cannot be ruled out.