Drones to join security forces in anti-Maoist fight | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Drones to join security forces in anti-Maoist fight

Security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations will get an eye in the sky in a month’s time to help them fight the insurgents better. Rajesh Ahuja reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 15, 2011 00:58 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

Security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations will get an eye in the sky in a month’s time to help them fight the insurgents better.

The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), established after the 1999 Kargil war especially to gather intelligence, will start flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones over Maoist strongholds such as Dantewada in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra next month, government sources told HT.

The sources said ground stations to launch the drones from have been identified and the NTRO will soon post its personnel at these stations.

The drones will be used for surveillance only as they cannot fire missiles. The drones will not only help track movements of Maoists but also keep an eye on security forces conducting operations and area domination exercises in the rebel strongholds, the sources said.

Gathering intelligence in Maoist-affected areas in dense forests and hilly terrains has always been a problem. Once operational, the drones will fill a critical gap in the battle against the Maoists. The plan to use drones gained prominence after the Dantewada attack in April last year when 76 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed by Maoists in an ambush.

"The government has given clearance to the NTRO to deploy UAVs (drones) after a clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security,” said a source privy to the development. Given the sensitivity involved, the sources refuse to divulge how many drones would be put to use or how many ground stations would be set up.

But HT has learnt that the government had asked the NTRO take out about six drones from its stores in the middle of last year for anti-Maoist operations. In all likelihood, these drones will be pressed into service in the fight against the Maoists. The drones are being operationalised after intensive field trials, the sources said.