The CRPF will raise a dedicated air surveillance unit comprising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for real time coverage of the areas in Naxal-affected States during operations against the ultras.
The decision was taken during a comprehensive review of CRPF by Union Home Secretary RK Singh recently during which the issue of unsatisfactory coverage by UAVs was discussed.
Singh advised CRPF to draw up the qualitative requirements based on its operational needs and procure the UAVs. Training to operate the UAVs will be provided by the manufacturer, he said at the meeting.
Action with regard to creation of the UAV wing for the CRPF will be taken by Naxal Management Division of the Union Home Ministry and the paramilitary force.
Singh has spoken to Secretary of Steel Ministry as well as CMD of Bhilai Steel Plant and they have indicated their willingness to handover the land at Jagdalpur for creation of the UAV base.
National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) that operates the UAVs has been asked to take possession of the land at Jagdalpur and start action to shift UAVs from its Hyderabad base. Presently, a limited number of UAVs are operated from Hyderabad leading to operational time lag in coverage of the areas undergoing anti-Naxal operations.
Union Home Secretary also asked the CRPF to submit a proposal of Air Courier Service from Srinagar to Delhi to the paramilitary personnel as they are not able to get direct trains from Jammu to many destinations in the country. The Secretary also directed the police division of the ministry to put up the proposal at an early for raising 29 battalions of the CRPF.
The CRPF is presently using the services of NETRA and Heron UAVs for surveillance of the Naxal-affected States. During internal meetings, paramilitary officials have raised the issue of deploying higher versions of UAVs for effective coverage of the areas. The UAVs have been generally found to be useful in anti-Naxal operations but the officials have sought to increase the flying duration of NETRA.
“Naxal outfits are waging mobile as well as static warfare against security forces and it is the need of the hour that their movement and activities are continuously put under the scanner,” a senior official said adding, its operational worth has been established by some successful operations carried out by CRPF in Chhattisgarh.
Following the successful use of the UAVs, operations officials of CRPF from Odisha and Jharkhand have sought deployment of these machines in their respective areas of operations.
These machines not only help in keeping a watch on the movement of the Naxals but are also able to intercept the communication of the ultras and relay the same to operational commanders on the field, the official added.