While a tense military standoff lingers at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, a covert war is being silently set in motion by Pakistan along the high security fenced border along Punjab. This aggression is being propagated by bombarding Punjab with heroin, flooding India with fake currency and employing Bangladeshi immigrants to work as drug-runners to hide Pakistani fingerprints. “Clearly the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is involved in drug-running and smuggling fake currency. All money earned from this is being used to fund anti-national activities against India. This year our seizures of both heroin and Fake Currency Notes (FCNs) have been 30 percent higher compared to last year,” says Border Security Force (BSF) Inspector General (Frontier) Aditya Mishra.
The BSF seized 288 kg of heroin and Rs 46 lakh worth of FCNs along the Punjab border in 2012. There is hardly any estimate how much heroin and FCNs have sneaked into Punjab without being intercepted. This drug onslaught on Punjab has left the state battered and the state is on the verge of an HIV epidemic due to intravenous drug abuse of heroin and other synthetic drugs.
The Punjab frontier of India with Pakistan may be electrically wired, but a dangerous mix of market economics and ISI funded subversive activities is transforming the border state into a tinderbox waiting to explode. While a kilogram of heroin costs Rs 5 crore in the international market, it costs Rs 10-12 lakh in Punjab. In Pakistan the same quantity costs a mere Rs 1 lakh. The ISI is cashing in on this gaping cost difference and pushing the drug into Punjab.
While the money is being transferred via hawala to ISI-backed heroin dealers, fake rupees are being smuggled into India to replace the outgo of ‘good currency’. This is being seen as an attempt to de-stabilise the local border economy, which could have substantial ripple effects for the rest of the state and the country as well.
Worryingly for the BSF, the ISI is increasingly relying on Bangladeshis to do the dirty job in a bid to minimise the casualties of Pakistani nationals who are regularly shot dead by the BSF along the fence. “In addition to 34 Pakistani nationals arrested this year by the BSF, 12 Bangladeshis have also been caught in the net. We are seeing infiltration from riverine gaps in the border which are now increasingly being targeted” says Mishra. That should be worrying for the BSF since the riverine areas till now were considered to be inaccessible to drug running and smuggling. In addition, the BSF is also increasingly seizing heroin, arms and ammunition in goods trains coming from Pakistan when they are checked at the Attari border. While Pakistan has invariably denied that its soldiers and ISI operatives are pushing heroin and FCNs into Punjab, few are ready to believe them.