Security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations in various states, including Chhattisgarh, have decided to get different variants of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ranging from small drones to long-range surveillance ones.
Forces deployed in Maoist hotbeds of the country have recently begun to pick up ground conversation, movement and pictures with the help of these devices. Authorities say they are handy in cases where quick information is needed -- like the recent abduction of Sukma district collector in Chhattisgarh.
"We are now getting an array...a spectrum of medium to long-range reconnaissance UAVs. While the small ones give the security forces an immediate input of activity happening in the surrounding area, the big UAVs provide you with advanced information about a far away area where an operation is to be launched," a top security official said.
The Union home ministry has already floated quality requirements in this regard and the procurement will be both from foreign and national manufacturers and suppliers of the UAVs, the official said.
The move comes in the backdrop of recent operations conducted in the jungles of Narayanpur district. The CRPF spy drone collected ground conversation and movement of Naxal cadres successfully while a mini-UAV called 'Netra' supplied information about suspect hideouts in a limited area in Bijapur district.
The UAVs also conducted flights during the abduction of Menon in south Bastar and, according to sources, the battery operated device brought back "good information".
"The UAV was sent and it gathered whatever it could in its short flight. The secret eye is now functional and very helpful," the official said.
The Central Reserve Police Force, along with other forces and technical experts drawn from the army and the NSG, has been trying to deploy UAVs for operational planning since April 2010, when 75 CRPF men and state police personnel were killed in a Naxal ambush in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada area.
The CRPF field units have also begun using modern Android phones to obtain co-ordinates of the difficult terrain in various states.
The UAVs will also help security forces like the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, along with state police units, to detect mines and IEDs planted by the Maoists.