Kashmir unrest: Security forces increasingly rely on drones as protests, militancy go up

Srinagar: The government forces are beefing up their surveillance capabilities in Kashmir to combat militancy and streets protests which have seen a spike in recent months. Apart from deploying the Indian Air force (IAF) commandos with the army to take part in anti-militancy operations, both army and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters to keep track of protestors at the funerals of militants and to launch combat operations in forest areas.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI


Jammu and Kashmir Police have proposed to procure many UAVs for aerial surveillance and are planning to purchase at least two drones shortly which can fly at least 400 metre above the ground level and are capable of going up to a distance of 4 kilometre "from the line of sight" both during the daytime as well as the night. As per the police proposal the UAVs "should have at least the cruise speed of 25 kilometre per hour" and also "carry payload of electro-optic for daylight" and "thermal imagers for night". Also, the ground control station of the UAVs are proposed to display "both the geographical map" and the "videos" at all times during the flight and "have the capability to detect a person or a group of persons in a room".

Inspector General of Police Headquarters, Surinder Kumar Gupta, said that the UAVs are proposed to be deployed to beef up the capacity of the personnel who are engaged in anti-militancy operations. While the police are planning to procure the lightweight 4 kilogram UAVs, both the CRPF and the army have already been using such devices particularly in the South Kashmir, where the militancy has increased. The army is also deploying lightweight UAVs for surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC) to check the incidents of infiltration from across the border.

On 14 August this year as people had assembled in large numbers at the grave of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Yaseen Yatoo, at Nagam area in Budgam, the government forces used the UAVs to keep a tab on the protestors.

The use of drones and helicopters come in the wake of the fact that an increasing number of local militants are carrying out weapons training in the forest areas of Kashmir and are even receiving the ammunition from local police personnel. They also depend on snatching weapons from the forces to carry on with the militant activities.

Moreover, officials said that the IAF commandos are also being used in anti-militancy operations which is also part of the plan to enhance their battle training. On Wednesday, two Garud commandos of IAF were killed as they were deployed for anti-militancy operations in Hajin area of North Kashmir’s, Bandipora. The Garud commandos were associated with 13 RR and were deployed after the information that 8-9 militants had assembled at a house. A police source said that the IAF commandos are being used for combat operations in the areas that fall in the vicinity of Wullar lake in Bandipora. 

"The place where the encounter took place is the area of responsibility of 13 RR. There were also commando attachments with the army and they operated and co-ordinated with Army and were deployed for a stealth operation like a room intervention," said Deputy Inspector General of Police, (DIG), North Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdi.

Following the surgical strikes in September 2016, in April this year IAF, Navy and Army unveiled a "joint doctrine" that provided for deeper operational co-ordination and listed "proxy war" in Jammu and Kashmir as a key challenge. 

Updated Date: Oct 14, 2017 20:53 PM

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