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Lucknow Police To Use Pepper-Spraying Drones For Crowd Control; A First for India

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Drones Quad-Copter

Capital of Uttar Pradesh and India’s 8th most populous city: Lucknow has become the first city in India to use to drones for crowd control. Police chief of Lucknow, Yashasvi Yadav has announced that they have purchased 5 high powered drones, costing Rs 6,00,000 each, which will be used for monitoring and controlling unruly mob.

Police has tested these drones in those areas where manual supervision poses problems, and the outcome has been encouraging.

Yashasvi Yadav said, “The results were brilliant. We have managed to work out how to use it to precisely target the mob in winds and congested areas.”

These drones can rise upto 600 meters, and can cover an area of 1 square km. The police will also establish a helpline to exclusively tackle those cases which needs the help of a drone.

These drones are powered with camera and can carry a load of 2 kgs. Pepper would be loaded into them, which would be sprayed on crowd which often goes berserk during religious possessions or agitations. Considering that pepper is non-lethal but effective, Lucknow police has received the nod from the State Government to purchase more such drones.

Last year, drones debuted in Lucknow when the police used them to monitor crowd during Muharram celebrations and later during Lucknow Mahotsava. During Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Ram Mahotsava’ in Ayodhya, drones were again used for surveillance and maintaining security.

Situations Where Drones Were Used In India

In the last few years, various state police forces have successfully used drones for crowd monitoring and surveillance but this is the first time it would be used for crowd control as well.

Some of the earlier instances include:

– Chennai, Tamil Nadu: A TCS employee was found missing and police were unable to track her. Using drones, Tamil Nadu police found a red string hanging on bushes some 30 kms away from Chennai. It helped them to find the body of the woman, who was raped and killed.

– Uttrakhand: Drones were used to track a tiger who had become man-eater and started attacking villagers. Using drones, authorities were able to track the location of the tiger and alert the villagers. In 2013, when devastating floods created mayhem in Uttrakhand, drones were used in rescue operations and were able to save more than 100 lives.

– Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Gujarat Police successfully used drones to monitor crowd during the annual Jagannath Yatra, where lakhs of devotee assemble and pull chariot. As per Gujarat Police, drones employed for surveillance helped them to track missing persons and nab those who were attempting to disrupt the peaceful rituals.

– Kolkata, West Bengal: As Sachin Tendulkar was playing his penultimate test match at Eden Gardens, Kolkata police had used a drone for monitoring crowd. Even during the Durga Puja, when thousands come out of their homes for celebration, drones had been used for crowd control.

– Mumbai, Maharashtra: Police had been using drones during the Ganesh Mahotsava, when crowd control becomes a challenge.

Interestingly, when a pizza chain in Mumbai decided to deliver pizza using drones, it caused wide spread fear and apprehensions all over the country. As there are no framework or regulations for drones in the Indian constitution (BR Ambedkar would never have thought about drones), police were baffled as to how to tackle them. Eventually, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had to intervene, and they banned the usage of civilian drones till proper framework for their usage is created.

When Amazon tried to use drones in India this Diwali, we reminded them that such commercial usage of drones in illegal not only in India, but also in the USA.

As per United Nation’s guidelines, every country in the world should ensure the deployment of atleast one policeman for every 450 citizens; but in India we only have one for every 761 citizens. It seems that drones can prove to be an efficient and effective tech-enabled supplement to help our police force.

But in the absence of any regulations or rules, it can pose some issues later on, when someone gets hurt or injured by drones, despite being innocent.

Do you think that drones can be an effective way for policing?

  1. Altaf Rahman says

    Just imagine what happens if Civilian use of drones is allowed with out Policy frame work.
    What if they are used by criminals. Humans are not required to courier illegal drugs/arms/gold from boats / ships to land to delivery points. To record a video of a scandal involving celebrities, your physical presence is not required. Chits need not be rolled on stones and thrown into exam halls to give to copying students.
    Just trying to be funny. Also imagine that suppose that Pizza chain was allowed to deliver pizza by drones. Once they come down to catchable altitude, some one may grab it, eat the pizza, break it and take the camera and the fans to sell in chor bazaar.
    Just my two paisa:)

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