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In violence-hit areas, UP police have eye in the sky — drones

The cameras were used to record the movement and activities of alleged anti-social elements and capture images of houses where bricks and stones were stored on terraces or on the road outside.

Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow | December 28, 2019 4:16:34 am
police surveillance to record anti-social activities, aerial surveillance of sensitive areas in UP, citizenship amendment act protest, NRC protest, police violence, CAA violence, UP news, indian express news A drone camera keeps vigil a day before Friday prayers, at Meenakshi Chowk in Muzaffarnagar on Thursday. (Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Uttar Pradesh Police have used drone cameras for aerial surveillance of sensitive areas since violence erupted last week during protests against the new citizenship law.

The cameras were used to record the movement and activities of alleged anti-social elements and capture images of houses where bricks and stones were stored on terraces or on the road outside. On the basis of such data, notices have been issued to the house owners to remove the bricks and stones, police said.

“There were instructions to the police in districts to use drone cameras to record activities and movement,” said ADG, Law and Order, P V Ramasastry.

Drone cameras were mostly used this week in districts like Firozabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Agra, Sambhal and Bijnor, where violence was reported. Each district saw the deployment of five to seven drone cameras, mostly focusing on sensitive areas, police said.

Muzaffarnagar police deployed drone cameras to monitor the situation during Friday prayers. “They help us observe the situation and keep track of gatherings — on the roof of a house for example. During a law and order situation, drones can identify if weapons are being kept on terraces. Accordingly we can deploy forces and maintain peace,” said Satpal Antil, SP City.

Police said the data provided by drones can be used as evidence under the Indian Evidence Act. In the wake of violence, drones were closely monitoring Khala Par area since clashes took place there, they added.

A senior police officer said that some districts have their own drone cameras while others hire them from private agencies. “We charge Rs 8,000-10,000 a day for each drone, depending on the resolution of cameras. We also provide operators to run the drones,” a businessman who provides drone cameras to the police told The Indian Express on Friday.

He said that drones being used by the police for surveillance are ‘Netra’, ‘Phantom’ and ‘Mavic’. Drone cameras with night vision are also being used.

An officer said that a police official is deployed with each drone operator who guides him about particular lanes or areas to focus on, and the official writes down the details. The data recorded in the cameras through the day is collected and scanned by the local SHO and circle officer and forwarded to the SP or higher-ups if required, said the officer.

“We are keeping watch through drone cameras in areas largely affected by the violence last week. In some districts,

policemen are trained to operate drones,” said a senior police officer.

Mathura and Firozabad police had issued notices to around 50 people each after drone cameras revealed bricks stored on their terraces and outside their houses. They were asked to remove the material immediately.

Mathura SSP Shalabh Mathur said, “We had two drone cameras and hired five more for surveillance. People who were issued notices have removed the materials from their houses.”

When contacted, District Magistrate Chandra Vijay Singh said that some persons removed the stones on their own, while policemen went to remove them in other cases.

—With inputs from Amil Bhatnagar

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