AMRITSAR: Border troops shot dead three Pakistani smugglers carrying drugs worth millions of dollars as they sought to sneak into India through the northeastern state of Punjab, a border security official said yesterday.
The Border Security Force (BSF), which patrols the Pakistan border, said it found 24 kilogrammes of heroin worth Rs1.2bn ($19.5m), along with weapons, ammunition and Pakistan mobile phones late on Friday.
“Last night, three Pakistani intruders crossed over to the Indian territory and were challenged by the BSF night patrol, but the intruders declined to surrender and fired at the BSF,” Ajay Tomar, Punjab BSF Inspector General, told reporters.
“In retaliation, BSF troops fired 19 rounds and the intruders were killed on the spot.”
A massive search has been launched to check for any other people crossing illegally from Pakistan in the area near the Wagah international border crossing, he said.
Wagah is the only road border crossing between Amritsar and Lahore. Local media reported last week that the BSF had seized 100 kilogrammes of heroin worth Rs5bn ($81m) in the last two months, adding that drug trafficking had spiked at the border, which prompted BSF to increase round-the-clock patrolling.
Punjab, once the wealthiest state in Asia’s third-largest economy, has now become a key smuggling route for drugs that come in from neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan. Punjab’s slowing economy and high unemployment rates have made youth more vulnerable to drug addiction, experts say. The drugs smuggled into India are mainly destined for Europe, but also find buyers in the state of 27 million. AFP