Aiming to detect terrorists who might be hiding in wall cavities or false ceilings, the Indian Army will now use ‘through the wall’ radar imaging during counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir Valley. A few such radar systems have already been imported by the Army, official sources said, explaining that the technology would help in more precise – and effective –anti-militancy operations. It would enable forces to get the pinpointed location of terrorists hiding inside homes in congested areas and also avoid civilian casualties.
On more than one occasion, the Army and the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police have had to return without engaging with militants despite specific intelligence inputs. Local informers later conveyed that the terrorists were hiding in a specially created false ceiling or an underground cavity in the same house that had been raided, said a senior official involved in the anti-militancy drive.
This happened on July 8 last year as well when security forces gunned down Burhan Wani, poster-boy of the banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen. The first time they tried to get him, they couldn’t locate any terrorist in the house in a village in Kokernag in south Kashmir despite precise intelligence tip-offs.
The commanding officer and his men, it is learnt, entered the house twice but were unable to find any terrorists who were hiding in a false ceiling. During the third round of searches, the hiding militants gave themselves away when they fired at the Army men. It was only after that that three men, including Wani, were killed, leading to unrest in the entire Valley.
Often, troops face hostile crowds when they are unable to locate a terrorist at a house notified by human intelligence as well as technically generated intelligence. Given the many hits and misses, need was felt for ‘through-the-wall’ radars which would help troops function better during counter-insurgency operations especially in densely populated areas, sources said.
The radar is based on short electromagnetic waves generated by the ‘signatures’ of people hidden behind the wall or other concrete barriers. It is useful for detecting small changes in electromagnetic waves induced by humans; this includes even micro-movements caused by breathing, an official explained. The images on the radar will give army an upper hand in determining the position of hiding terrorists and their movements on real-time basis, he said.
Though the Army has imported only a few such radars, officials are hopeful that the number would go up once their utility was put to test. Interestingly, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), a wing of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has been making attempts to build the radar indigenously. However, the product has not moved to the trial stage yet.
Named Divyachakshu (divine eye), the radar is designed to scan 25-30 cm wall. The project was started after 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when commandos of the elite NSG unit were injured while clearing the Taj Mahal hotel.