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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Naxals use drones over CRPF camp in Bastar, shoot at sight orders issued

The latest directive by a unified command of security and intelligence agencies at the Centre comes in the wake of a maiden incident where drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were seen hovering over a strategically important CRPF camp in the worst Naxal-violence affected district of Sukma in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar region.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2019 01:34 IST
HT Correspondent and PTI
HT Correspondent and PTI
Hindustan Times, Raipur/ New Delhi
The Chhattisgarh police had informed the Central government that a small red and white light emitting object, probably a drone, was seen flying near the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Kistaram and Pallodi last month at least four times in three days. (Image used for representation).
The Chhattisgarh police had informed the Central government that a small red and white light emitting object, probably a drone, was seen flying near the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Kistaram and Pallodi last month at least four times in three days. (Image used for representation).(HT FILE PHOTO.)
         

The Centre has issued shoot-at-sight orders to security forces deployed in left wing extremism affected states after a ‘serious and new’ threat of possession and operation of drones by Maoist cadres in Chattisgarh’s Bastar region came to light recently, officials said on Sunday.

The latest directive by a unified command of security and intelligence agencies at the Centre comes in the wake of a maiden incident where drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were seen hovering over a strategically important CRPF camp in the worst Naxal-violence affected district of Sukma in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar region.

“Some suspicious objects flashing lights have been seen over a camp in Sukma but nothing concrete was found. We are yet to confirm whether it was a drone or anything else,” said inspector general of police, Bastar, Sunderaj P.

The IG said that they have alerted all the security camps about the development and searches are being conducted in nearby areas and all suspicious hideouts for presence of any such objects.

The Chhattisgarh police had informed the Central government that a small red and white light emitting object, probably a drone, was seen flying near the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Kistaram and Pallodi last month at least four times in three days.

The drones emitted a “low whizzing sound” that drew attention of camp guards after which offensive position was taken by troops but the mini-UAVs soon disappeared from the sky above the CRPF camps, a police officer said.

The development rang alarm bells in the security establishment leading intelligence agencies to a vendor in Mumbai who is suspected to have sold the drones to some unidentified persons, possibly Naxal cadres.

Inquiries in this context are being made, police officials said.

Intelligence agencies are particularly concerned as the two camps where these drones were spotted are located deep inside the Naxal hotbed, and do not have proper road connectivity and witness regular movements of armed Maoist cadres as the area shares borders with Odisha, Maharashtra and leads to the jungle corridor of Andhra Pradesh.

“This development is a serious concern. Possession and operation of drones by Maoists is a new challenge which has been anticipated by security agencies for long. The issue has now surfaced,” a top-ranking security official privy to the development said.

The official said, “Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued to security forces all across the LWE affected states to take down such rogue drones or UAVs being operated by Naxals.”

A preliminary analysis of the incident estimates that the drones that were spotted were basic variants of a four-legged UAV that is controlled from the ground using a remote control and is used in capturing videos and photos of social events like wedding and public gatherings.

Agencies suspect Naxalite cadres have recently acquired these mini drones to conduct reconnaissance of security forces camps, monitor activities inside and even detect their movements near their hideouts.

“Till the time we have a uniform policy on countering enemy drones, it has been decided to shoot down such objects so that lives and activities of security personnel are not at risk, the official quoted above said.