Delhi Police used drones to identify culprits, trouble spots during east Delhi violence
The protest at Seelampur was quelled within two hours as protesters saw drones hovering above them and stopped vandalising public property fearing they would be caught on tape.
The Delhi Police may not own any drones but that has not stopped the force from renting these devices for monitoring riots, controlling crowd, and managing traffic. The first documented use of such device by Delhi Police was in 2014 when unmanned aerial vehicles were used to keep a watch on the riot-hit Trilokpuri area in east Delhi.
On Tuesday, when a mob allegedly turned violent in northeast Delhi’s Seelampur and surrounding neighbourhoods, police deployed five rented drones to not only identify trouble spots, but also used the footage to identify and arrest some suspects, said RP Meena, additional deputy commissioner of police (northeast).
“We analysed the footage being relayed by the drones in real time to know where protesters were gathering, how they were behaving and how strong the crowds were,” said Meena.
Unlike Sunday’s violent protest, that went on for several hours, the one at Seelampur was quelled within two hours. People believe that when some protesters saw drones hovering above them, thy stopped vandalising public property fearing they would be caught on tape.
Later, armed with footage from drones and CCTVs, the police linked suspects to the violence and nabbed them.
Previously, the same district police had used five drones to monitor the situation in the communally sensitive regions after the Ayodhya verdict last month. The drones were very effective in policing then too, said Meena.
Delhi Police spokesperson, MS Randhawa, said the city police has been using drones since 2014 in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri.
Back then, the police had experimented with a drone to spot dozens of bags of stones, many bottles and other weapons hidden on terraces of homes. The technology had come handy as the police did not need to arrange for warrants to search houses.
Soon, the Delhi Police were using drones to provide security at Ramlila, Durga Puja and Muharram venues and managing traffic during Chhath Puja.
“Currently, we do not have drones of our own, so we rent them,” said Randhawa. Another officer said that the police usually rent drones from wedding organisers on a case-to-case basis. “We pay about ₹2,500-₹3,000 per day for a drone,” said the officer.
Additional deputy commissioner of police Meena said that on Tuesday, the drones were hovering 30 feet from the ground.
He acknowledged the threat to the drones from the crowd , but said the benefits far outweighed the possibility of damage.
Prakash Singh, former Director General of UP police, among other forces, said the use of this technology was welcome as it not only ensured monitoring, but also brought with it “strong ” evidence against trouble makers.
“The use of drones negates the need for witnesses when arrested people plead innocence. Apart from helping in identify miscreants, it is a big source of evidence,” said Singh.