Cops get unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) power to hunt for Maoists in Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The hunt for Maoists will be intensified with the deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which will track the Naxalites in the Vizag Agency area for the benefit of special party police who are finding it difficult to take up combing operations in the hilly terrain of Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) during monsoon season.

Security forces tested the UAV in the AOB twice last month. The UAV scanned the extremists’ hideouts and their passages in the AOB in general and Malkangiri in particular, sources said. The police operated the UAV from Hyderabad and not from Madhurapudi airport in Rajahmundry, as the requisite monitoring system has not been installed there yet, the sources said.

The police launched the drive against Maoists in the first week of August during the time when the rebels were observing the martyrs’ week following inputs from intelligence sleuths about a gathering of the guerrillas. “We have decided to deploy the UAV to track Naxalites,” a senior police officer told TOI. The UAV is already in use in north Telangana and Chhattisgarh border, the sources said.

With the use of the Rs 40-crore worth UAV, the security forces would be able to make further inroads into the Maoist den. “The UAV, capable of intercepting wireless messages apart from clicking aerial photographs, enhances the preparedness of the cops,” a senior official involved in anti-insurgency operations said.

The UAVs also possess ground and foliage penetration radars which provide logistical support to paramilitary forces, special parties and the Greyhounds, the elite commando force of the state police. “Trial runs of UAVs were conducted during the monsoon as the combing parties were in no position to enter deep inside the jungles. Had they been stationed in Rajahmundry and operated from there, they could have surveyed a far greater area,” the police officer said.

Along with the UAVs, the central government has granted a troupe carrier chopper to Visakhapatnam district which would be based at Chintapally in the Agency area. “It can help airdrop and lift security forces from one place to another, thereby avoiding mine blasts triggered by the Maoists,” a senior IPS officer told TOI.

Sources said as per the tracking of UAV, Naxalites are on the move in the border areas of Bandugaon, Narayanapatna, Lakshmipur in Koraput and Malakangiri districts. It may be recalled that a decision to deploy the UAV was first taken in November 2011.

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