The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other agencies are working on indigenous counter-drone technology, and it will be available soon, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Saturday and added that all gaps in India’s border fencing will be covered by 2022.

The comments came over two weeks after a drone was used to target the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu with explosives on June 27. The explosives left two personnel injured. Drones have since been repeatedly spotted hovering over military installations in the region.

“Smuggling of drugs, arms, and explosives through tunnels and drones is a major challenge. Today, it is very important for us to deal with these challenges at the earliest. I am confident that we will soon increase our presence at the borders with Swadeshi (made-in-India) anti-drone technology,” Shah said at an investiture ceremony of the Border Security Force (BSF).

The June 27 attack on the IAF station was the first such instance of Pakistan-based terrorists deploying unmanned aerial vehicles to strike at vital installations in India. The National Investigation Agency is investigating the case. There have been several incidents of terrorists using drones in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir to drop arms, ammunition, drugs, and money to fuel terrorism in the region. At least 300 drones have been sighted along the border there with Pakistan since 2019.

HT last week reported several rounds of meetings have been held between various agencies and private players on a technology to detect, identify and mitigate the threat of rogue drones. A procurement plan for it is at an advanced stage.

Shah told top security officers at the investiture ceremony that it is their responsibility to find new technology with help of experts to help India deal with the threat of the use of Artificial Intelligence and robotics technology by enemies and terrorists.

Intelligence Bureau chief Aravind Kumar, Research and Analysis Wing head Samant Goel, BSF director general Rakesh Asthana and heads of other central police forces attended the ceremony.

Shah said all gaps in India’s border fencing will be filled by 2022 to completely end the infiltration and other anti-national activities.

India shares over 15,000 km land border with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Fencing has been sanctioned over 2,069 km of the 3,323-km-long India-Pakistan border. It has been completed over 2,021 km. India shares a 4,096-km-long border with Bangladesh. About 3063.24 km of it has been fenced.

The government last year approved a plan to replace the old with a new design fencing with “anti-cut, anti-rust, and anti-climb features”. Shah cited the hurdles in the fencing at certain stretches–habitations within 150 yards of the border, pending land acquisition and protests by the border populations, and bureaucratic hurdles. He added these hurdles often delay the fencing progress. He added the issues were being sorted out through discussions.

“If 97% border is fenced, then that 3% is part of the problem as it leaves an opportunity for the infiltrators. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has worked towards resolving the border security issues. There is no benefit if there are gaps. So, I can assure you that there will be no gaps in fencing on the border by 2022,” said Shah. “A country cannot be secure if its borders are not secure.”

Shah praised the BSF for its work in guarding borders and especially in detecting tunnels used by terrorists and smugglers. He urged the paramilitary forces deployed at different borders to make sure the local populations do not migrate.