India’s first drone squad is in place. A team of four police constables, led by inspector Hemant Todkar, in Aurangabad’s cyber crime department are forming India’s first anti-crime dedicated drone squad, which will be launched in a few weeks. While drone squads are nothing new globally or in India, what makes this team new is their unique use case.
According to a report by FactorDaily, the drone squad has proposed to sprinkle concentrated chilli powder through drones to control unruly mobs. The team of four will have four drones, that will carry up to 2 kg of chilli concentrate. It is perhaps patent-worthy, too, Yashasvi Yadav, an IIT graduate who is the police commissioner of Aurangabad, told the publication.
”Our officers will fly drones like pros playing video games. We have a back-to-home feature too, whereby drones will come back to the starting point if they run out of battery or there’s an emergency or they run out of chilli powder.” Yadav did not mention the name of the drones manufacturer, but it was mentioned that they will cost around Rs 15 lakh for four of them.
Yadav believes that drones are the new crime-fighting tool. He revealed that there will be three immediate applications of the drone with the launch in the coming weeks. For one, they will be used to monitor and manage unruly mobs by spraying chilli powder. Two, they will help in reaching the crime scene sooner than before, and relaying live imagery to help easily identify criminals. Finally it will also aid traffic management, a purpose it is being used for in several Indian states.
“The biggest problem we are trying to solve is disbursal of unlawful assembly (of people). The problem in India is that for every small or big issues, there are agitations and marches and many of them turn violent. They make allegations against police, there are riots, damages done to public property and so on,” Yadav says. The drones will be a deterrent, the commissioner says. “With drones watching and tracking, the mobsters will think twice before creating trouble.”
The video evidence, further, will be as good as it gets in a court of law, Yadav adds. “In a way, it will be unimpeachable evidence. Right now, we are relying on witnesses who sometimes turn hostile because of threats or even insensitivity.”
Further, the commissioner also revealed plans to add a dye solution to the drone payload, which would help in identifying rioters/criminals. “We are going to be putting dye in chilli powder so that whoever is part of an unlawful assembly gets marked. Later, after arrest, that person cannot claim he was not part of the assembly,” he says.
“Policing in india has become a very herculean, difficult and complex task because of burgeoning population, multiple faiths and their festivals. Whenever we used to discuss these issues with our officers and experts, it was mostly about better infrastructure and the police to public ratio, which effectively means increasing the number of policemen,” Yadav concluded.