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For first time, UAVs to be used in anti-Naxal operations

Source: PTI
November 15, 2009 21:39 IST
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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will be used for the first time to detect Naxal hideouts in dense forests and hilly terrains and monitor the movement of ultras to help ground forces carry out precision attacks.

The UAVs, with in-built camera, well-equipped data link and video link, will gather and record information, which will be shared among the security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations, especially in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The trials of the UAVs, developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, have recently been conducted in Hissar and Delhi while more trials will be conducted in jungles of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand soon.

"We are satisfied with the UAV trials in Hissar and Delhi. If we are satisfied with next stage of trials, we will take the help of UAVs in our operations against Naxals," a home ministry official said.

Security experts also want to see which of the UAV variants will be useful in forests and hills as most of the Maoist bases are located there only.

The UAVs also provide flexible surveillance and reconnaissance capability with external payload, including weapons capability.

"Since the Maoists are keep changing their movements, deployment of UAVs will certainly be an advantage for security forces," the official said.

Each of the UAV will cost a minimum of Rs 18 lakh and the home ministry has already earmarked a substantial amount of funds for the purpose.

The HAL is developing the UAVs with an aerospace company of Israel, a known technologically advanced country.

Officials said the Maoists are now having a free run in 40,000 sq km area across the country where around 25 lakh people live, necessitating urgent action against them.

The Naxalites have killed more than 2,600 people, including civilians, in 5,800 incidents in last three years.

The highest number of incidents of violence has taken place in the four worst-affected states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, where 2,212 people lost their lives from January 2006 to August this year.

In the proposed anti-Naxal operations, around 40,000 paramilitary personnel will assist the respective state police forces.

Almost 7,000 troops specially trained in jungle warfare are also part of the total strength of the central forces to be deployed for the task.

The cabinet committee on Security had already approved the government's new plan to counter Maoists under which the affected states will have an effective coordination and the police will take a lead role.

The anti-Naxal plan also includes a Rs 7,300-crore package for undertaking developmental works in areas cleared off the left-wing extremists.
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