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Drone attack threat in Delhi in August? Delhi Police declines to comment

Drone

With Independence Day less than a month away, Delhi Police have reportedly taken certain measures like temporarily banning the use of UAVs while districts in J&K issued stricter orders after the drone attack in Jammu.

Delhi Police has reportedly received alerts from the Intelligence Bureau about a major “terror activity” likely to be executed with the help of drones in August, news agency ANI and several other publications reported.

Why it matters: India witnessed its first drone attack on its territory when it was reported that UAVs had attacked an Indian Airforce Base in Jammu. Since then, there has been a crackdown on drone operations in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir, while the Indian government has proposed new drone rules. However, this alert also comes at a time when reports of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware possibly targetting several Indian politicians, activists, and journalists have been receiving a lot of attention. Questions are being raised of the Indian government since the NSO Group had earlier stated that they only sell their products to vetted governments and agencies. The Pegasus exposé released a few days ago has caused an uproar in Parliament as well where the Monsoon Session is currently underway.

Reports by ANI, India Today, and the Tribune which does not quote any official, and which attributes the information to “sources” said that intelligence agencies like the Intelligence Bureau have alerted Delhi Police “about a major terror activity that is likely to be executed in the national capital with the help of drones. However, when MediaNama contacted Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal, he dismissed the reports and declined to comment on the matter.

Quoting anonymous sources, the ANI report had said, “Security agencies have warned Delhi Police that on August 5, Article 370 was removed from Jammu and Kashmir. In such a situation, on this itself, terrorists are trying to carry out a big terrorist conspiracy in Delhi. Let us tell you that for the first time, we will deal with the threat of a drone attack.” Since the publication of these reports on July 20 and July 21, there has been no update regarding these alleged alerts.

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Delhi Police training anti-drone staff in view of Independence Day

The twin blasts caused reportedly by drones at the high-security airport in Jammu have awoken the Delhi Police to the impending threat UAVs pose, and with Independence Day less than a month away, reports said that the police has been taking a few specific steps in this regard.

Quoting Anita Roy, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police in Delhi Police, ANI reported, “To counter anti-drone challenge staff is being trained on how to respond to unfriendly objects. Coordinated training with Air Force, National Security Guard, Defence Research and Development Organisation is in process. 360-degree anti-drone coverage on the day of the arrangement.”

Roy added, “Staff deployment for security checks has been in force for two months. Internal checks at markets, near Chandni Chowk area and inside Red Fort are being done.”

Delhi Police has temporarily banned usage of UAVs

This development comes a week after Delhi Police in an order banned the use of UAVs, unmanned aircraft systems, drones, quadcopters, and other remote-controlled flying objects till August 16, a MoneyControl report said.

In an order, Delhi Police was quoted as saying by MoneyControl, “It has been decided to “prohibit flying of sub-conventional aerial platforms like para-gliders, para-motors, hang-gliders, UAVs, UASs, microlight aircrafts, remotely piloted aircrafts, hot air balloons, small sized powered aircrafts, quadcopters or para jumping from aircraft etc. over the jurisdiction of the NCT of Delhi.”

The police in the order said that “certain criminal, anti-social elements or terrorists inimical to India may pose a threat to the safety of the general public, dignitaries and vital installations by the use of sub-conventional aerial platforms”.

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Districts in Jammu and Kashmir has banned UAVs

The Srinagar, Rajouri, and Kathua administrations have banned the sale, possession, and use of drones within their respective district limits. The decisions came a week after a drone attack on an Indian Air Force base in Jammu injured two, reports by Press Trust of India, NDTV, and others said. The order issued by Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar district, Mohammad Aijaz directed those who are already in possession of drones or similar UAVs, to deposit them at their local police stations.

What did the order say?

  • The order allows government departments to use drones for mapping, surveys, and surveillance in agricultural, environmental conservation and disaster mitigation sectors. However, it directed them to inform the local police station before using them.
  • It says that violation of the guidelines will attract punitive action, and also directed the police to implement the restrictions in letter and spirit.
  • The order comes in lieu of a similar recommendation made by the Srinagar police chief.
  • Decentralised airspace access has to be regulated since it poses a threat to security infrastructure.
  • Use of drones to be discontinued in all social and cultural gatherings to eliminate any risk to life.

Also read

More reading on Pegasus

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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